Current Anthropology 1973

Baity, Elizabeth Chesley. Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy So Far. Current Anthropology October, 1973 Vol.14(4):389-449.

Astronomy, engineering, and archaeology have joined to create a new field of study called astroarchaeology, archaeoastronomy, or ethnoastronomy. Elizabeth Baity has described the interaction of these three fields to create an interest for those who used astronomical methods to create monumental structures in the past. The interdisciplinary field will allow for new enlightenment about societies that used these techniques in Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas. Astronomers and archaeologists continue to debate the use of Stonehenge as an ideal model for astronomical observatory to better understand the methods that were used. The use of Stonehenge as an astronomical observatory presents a problem, because researchers are not positive that the structure was created with these methods of locating stars and placing the stones at various points to create a pattern. No substantial evidence is presented to confirm the initial idea of the use of Stonehenge. Various other astronomical sites are presently still under review such as Er Grah located in Europe. Summer solstices and vernal equinoxes have been studied in the past, to compare previous centuries for any correlations to provide information for the field of astroarchaeology. Research has determined that astronomical knowledge used from the Paleolithic time period onward formed cultural processes. Various developments are currently being created which have relied heavily on art from different time periods. Areas of possible astronomical guidance to create structures are continuously being suggested in order to better understand sites throughout the world. This multi-disciplinary field of study is needed to better understand past cultures. Those who work in the field combine their ideas with many others across the globe to find parallels which might provide new insight in to prehistoric structures. Commentary provides suggestions about how this new field is quickly emerging and shows that there are a vast number of people who find interest in the subject. Many appreciated Baity’s long bibliography that provides the reader with an opportunity to further investigate the subject. Of the commentators listed, most found that it was too broad of a subject for Baity to take on. Commentators refuted arguments that Baity presented, suggesting that her research was faulty. Various areas of the article were not related to astronomy consequently affecting the validity of the article. Baity replied to commentary by stating that this is a working piece and new references will allow for a strengthening in the understanding of a field that is new and not yet totally defined.

LAURA HAHNE University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Barkow, Jerome H. Darwinian Anthropology: A Biosocial Approach. Current Anthropology October, 1973 Vol.14(4): 373-387

Darwinian psychology is a psychology of the acting individual in his natural group context. It is a psychology of the acting individual in the natural group context, and a psychology of people’s choices and personal relationships. Two psychologists De Vos and Hippler have divided this type of psychology into six problem areas: 1.culture and physical development, 2.culture and cognitive development, 3.culture and symbolic thought, 4.culture and child socialization, 5.culture and individual adjustment and change, 6.culture and mental health

The Darwinian psychology is becoming more used now. This psychology outs an emphasis in the evolutionary processes which generates the distinctively human behavioral and morphological characteristics.

John Bowlby has created a paradigm which combines this Darwinian approach with concepts borrowed from control theory to create this paradigm for the study of social bonds and relationships. Barkow believes that Bowlby’s paradigm is perfect to assume that all social relationships are similar to the relationship between mother and child which Bowlby analyzed.

There is also situational analysis being used which includes case histories in their monographs and analyze the details of social processes. It discusses how individuals involved react and what the effects of their reaction are.

PRISCILLA GUIDO University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Barkow, Jerome H. Darwinian Psychological Anthropology: A Biosocial Approach. Current Anthropology October, 1973 Vol. 14 (4):373-387.

Barkow emphasizes the need for a new perspective in psychological anthropology, a new definition that is necessary to create a more biosocial psychological anthropology. In the past, anthropologists have used the term “psychological anthropology” incorrectly and have been focusing more on cross-cultural psychology than psychological anthropology. Barkow wishes to better clarify what biosocial psychological anthropology is in respect to the paradigm of Charles Darwin. In order to adequately develop his idea of biosocial psychological anthropology, Barkow describes what the Darwin perspective entails. Just like other animals, humans are also products of biological evolution, which means natural selection has selected for humans’ increased abilities to form social bonds, acquire language and culture, use tools, etc. Therefore, the more dependent humans grew on these cultural-type adaptations, the more strongly the “capacity for culture” was selected for. Therefore, man’s past must be studied in order to understand their present state.

Barkow emphasizes the importance of Bowlby’s paradigm of social relationship as part of a biosocial approach. Bowlby uses terms like environmentally stable (replacing the term “instinctive”) and environmentally labile (dependent on interaction with the environment for their manifestation) to describe types of social behaviors.

According to Barkow, psychological anthropology should include a thorough situational analysis in order to obtain an idea of conscious or unconscious motives of the individuals involved. Looking at social relationships at the level of the individual in order to understand what is going on between them is a technique of psychological anthropology. By placing this analysis of social relationships into an evolutionary perspective, we then gain a biosocial psychological anthropological point of view. The Darwinian approach more readily focuses on the similarities, not differences, between groups that are often lost and overlooked.

The first step towards conducting a “biosocial psychological anthropological” study would be to select a single individual and make them the focus of the analysis. The social relationships of that individual would be picked apart and examined thoroughly in a holistic approach. A true biosocial approach to psychological anthropology focuses on the “individual in his natural social context rather than on isolated personality mechanisms.” These social relationships are products of natural selection and are based on a stabilizing environment from which current social characteristics of humans have emerged.


Most commentators agree with Barkow’s insistence on studying man’s past in order to understand the present. They also applaud him for his “push” for a new perspective. However, many cringe at Barkow’s newly coined phrase “biosocial psychological anthropology.” Freeman and others thinks Barkow gives just emphasis to the study of behavior of the individual in natural social contexts, which is the essential backbone of the new perspective he presents. Many criticize Barkow’s use of terminology (i.e. environmentally stable/labile), claiming it is misleading. Many commentators also feel that Barkow’s use of the “Darwinian perspective” doesn’t actually reflect the true ideas of Darwin himself. However, according to Ganguly, he does do well to “emphasize the role of natural selection in biosocial evolution.” Givens and Kagan remark harshly that even though this may be true, Barkow’s article does not add anything to the field of psychological anthropology, but instead serves to confuse the already existing body of information. Barkow is also accused of not citing earlier work done in this field of study.


Barkow thanks all of those commentators who are in agreement with and supporters of his ideas. He then addresses those who criticized his article by presenting more information to help clarify his points. He goes on to more fully explain his idea of environmentally stable and labile as well as his reference to “innate.” Barkow also clearly defines what he means when referring to the “Darwinian perspective,” stating that he is only referring to the idea of biological evolution, not social Darwinism. Barkow closes by saying that “a theoretical perspective is only as good as the research and theory it generates”…regardless of whether it is termed ‘biosocial psychological anthropology’ or not.

JESSICA HARTEL Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Birdsell, Joseph B. A Basic Demographic Unit. Current Anthropology, October 1973. Vol. 14(4): 337-356.

Basic Demographic Unit”, Joseph Birdsell believes that a “self defining demographic unit exists among economically simple human populations” (1). Just like English system’s “foot“ measurement, there is a unit that exists among tribes, like that of the Australian dialectical tribe. This tribe demonstrates a stable population by having exactly 250 women and 250 men at its optimum population level. This stability can me disrupted when a disturbing force, like certain initiation ceremonies, occur. When these disruptive forces pass, then the stability is back to it normal level. Dialectical tribes are “tribes with no political authority or organization”(1), and exist all over the world. There are three “units” which are in this Australian tribe. They are: the family, the band/horde and tribe. The family consists of a husband and wife, and any of their children, biological or adopted. The band/horde is a group of people who live together regularly and all have a common lifestyle. A tribe is a group of individuals who share the same language and consider the name of their group and their language to be the same. Birdsell goes on to compare population estimates and population densities of numerous tribes. He compares the numbers on a large table, which is easy to read by the reader and goes on to prove that the re-stabilization after a disruptive force occurs from phenomenon.

There are many statements made by the commentators stating the existence of unclear points in Birdsell’s article. They feel that Birdsell assumes that his readers already know many of the facts that may lead to his more important points. That seems to be the biggest problem. Some feel that this topic of a demographic unit is a great concept for those pre-historians and or anthropologists. Birdsell does a good job of pointing out the importance of field observations, done first hand.

ANTONETTE CUNANAN University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Birdsell, Joseph B. A Basic Demographic Unit. Current Anthropology June, 1973 Vol.14: 337-356.

In this article, Joseph Birdsell shows how to calculate a dialectical tribe. He begins by using Australian aborigines as a demographic model. He chose aborigines because they were strictly hunter-gatherers at the time of contact and they have no political organization or authority. He defines dialectical tribe as a group that speaks one language (perceived by the natives themselves), where the name of the language is usually the same as that of the tribe. Birdsell proposes that the standard size of the Australian tribe is five hundred individuals. These tribes are real entities to both anthropologists and the natives themselves. The boundaries between these tribes act as language boundaries that inhibit cultural change and diffusion.

The Australian dialectical tribe maintains cohesion through the process of face to face communication. This face to face contact decreases linguistic deviation among the various bands of a tribe. When a tribe grows beyond the optimum of 500 individuals the space between bands increases. Bands will associate more with bands in their immediate surroundings and with bordering tribes. This increases linguistic variability within the tribe. When the dialects of bands within a tribe begin to become mutually unintelligible, then a split will occur within the tribe. Birdsell explains this phenomenon with the concept of “density of communication.” This concept has four factors: (1) the frequency of interaction, (2) the intensity of interaction, (3) the duration of interaction, and (4) the facility of communication. As the tribe expands and grows, the values for these four factors decrease. After the tribal unit fractures, then it will restore itself to the optimum of 500 individuals.

Birdsell then proceeds with a comparative study of the populations of aboriginal tribes in Australia. He uses population estimates made from early European observers, which he concedes are unreliable at best. He shows evidence as to how these observers might have mistaken the size of these tribes when they deviated from the standard of 500 individuals. In some cases, recently fractured tribes would show decreased population size. Ecological factors may also provide stabilization factors to tribal size. Initiation ceremony diffusion also plays a role in tribal fracturing. As bands from a tribe adopt a new initiation ceremony from a neighboring tribe, a psychological barrier can be created between the parts of a tribe practicing the new ritual and those practicing traditional rituals. This accounts for tribal differentiation when dialectical differences are not severe. Birdsell believes this system of study can be used in studying other societies that differ in only one dimension.


The comments on this paper were generally of the opinion that Birdsell’s work has done a great service to anthropology. But there were those who seriously questioned his findings. They thought his reliance on historical texts was unreliable and the exclusion of certain tribes from his calculations on the basis of ecological conditions was faulty. In his reply, Birdsell reemphasized the validity of his research and maintained that it is a valid approach to tribal study.

STEVEN SCHAEFER Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Bohannan, Paul. Rethinking Culture: A Project for Current Anthropologists. Current Anthropology October, 1973 Vol.14(4):357-372.

Paul Bohannan actively asks his fellow colleagues to “rethink” culture by exploring its usage, meaning, and the impact and importance of the term culture on the anthropology world. He also presents the ideas and thoughts to other anthropologists with the hopes that they can help answer some of the questions he raises. He presents four topics: 1) problems in the use of “culture” concept 2) culture and the cultural pool 3) culture and the cultural tradition and 4) ethnography, comparison and evolution.

In the first section, he discusses problems which arise in the use of the culture concept. He states that many anthropologists tend to “simultaneously” define culture while investigating it. These definitions are frequently filled with assumptions and hinder the anthropologists’ effectiveness at examining their own question. The second difficulty of defining culture and the problem of culture concept is the misunderstanding that culture is the same thing as cultures. The third problem of concept culture definitions is that the term culture has been manipulated by anthropologists to include aspects of its meaning in order to support particular ideas or theories.

Bohannan uses the idea of “culture pool”, analogous to a “gene pool”, in order to illustrate the idea that genetics and culture are “two parts of a single process.” A diagram is used as an aid in this second section showing the differences between general systems and information systems.

Another point Bohannan makes is that culture is always encoded twice-“once within the human being, in electrical and chemical form, and once outside the human being in some other form.” Individuals, human and animal alike are made from these two types of “coded information” being genetic and cultural. As a result of this double coding, he suggests that the field of anthropology is very diverse, joining subjects such as bio-anthropology and archeology, both on extremes of his double coding theory.

Bohannan discusses the “cultural tradition” as a means of examining “cultures” and certain problems which occur when the word is made plural. He also looks at the danger of creating “subcultures” which overlook the importance of studying culture and tradition.

The last section of Bohannan’s article questions the way in which anthropologists have examined cultures, evolution and the presentation of this information in the form of ethnographies. Similar to the gene pool, the cultural pool also evolves. Bohannan states his belief that genetic information and cultural information are not independent of each other. Individuals are unique as a result of these two factors. The implications of these factors discussed previously on ethnographic writings where anthropologists have “imprecisely” used the word “comparison” while studying culture. He furthers his idea to include that the study of evolution itself has been affected by the misuse and misconceptions of many words which are so freely used by anthropologists.

Bohannan’s article received many responses, many in agreement of some ideas while questioning other statements made. Several anthropologists appreciated his idea of “rethinking” as a way to reevaluate the field and acknowledge the significance of this topic. Many responses disagreed with his idea of double coding.

In Bohannan’s response to the responses, he is disappointed that few of the anthropologists replied to give him ideas, suggestions, or insight to the topics he presents. He criticizes some of the criticism and at one point describes his model of ethnographies. Instead of saying that culture and society are as indivisible as two sides of a sheet of paper, Bohannan would use a tetrahedron with the four surfaces labeled “soma”, “society”, “culture”, and “behavior.” In his model is included a thumbtack which symbolizes “experience”. In ethnographic writing, his aim is to get his pin as close to the informant as possible.

MINA ELISON University of San Diego (Dr. Cordy-Collins)

Bohannan, Paul. Rethinking Culture: A Project for Current Anthropologists. Current Anthropology October, 1973 Vol. 14(4): 357-372.

Paul Bohannan examines the concept of culture in an effort to uncover the problems anthropologists encounter when trying to understand culture. He begins by discussing the inconsistencies in defining culture and provides a history of the definitions. He believes the solution is reducing everything known about culture to biology and chemistry with an end product referred to as the double code.

The next argument involves what Bohannan calls the cultural gene pool. He makes an analogy between culture and genetics. Culture traits are analogous to genes, and the “body of culture” of an individual or group is an arrangement of traits from the available cultural pool, which is similar to a gene pool. Yet these cultural traits are subject to change and are shared by many bodies of culture.

He continues by explaining how culture is double-coded information. Coded information comes in two forms, genetic and cultural, and although the content and principles are different, they are both chemical in nature. He categorizes the information we receive into genetically encoded and experientially encoded. Experientially encoded information is further divided into infracultural signs and culturally encoded information. The culturally encoded information includes out-of-awareness culture, material culture, and symbols. Thus, culture is a mode of encoding information in several forms but it occurs twice. The first encoding occurs internally in the brain, which includes memory, behavior, and interaction, and the second occurs externally including speech, action, material culture, social structure, and writing.

Bohannan also discusses the distinction between culture and “a culture,” which are two very separate entities. He refers to “a culture” as a cultural tradition, which can exist only in a given context. Finally, he discusses the implications these ideas have for ethnography, comparison, and evolution. He believes ethnography will spread to all disciplines and grow in complexity. It will be necessary to make comparisons concerning the organization of traits, without assuming there is a “typical of the culture.” However, his ideas will be of most use in evolution because culture will no longer be limited to the human species, but it will be included as a part of animal life.


All of the commentators support Bohannan’s effort to encourage anthropologists to rethink the concept of culture. Many of them also agree with his idea of double coding; however, many disagree with the analogy he makes between culture and genetics. They also argue that his proposals are superficial and needed more elaboration. They are also uneasy about Bohannan making culture the property of humans and animals. None of the commentators actually provide a solution to the problem involving the concept of culture; rather, they provide abstract evidence for their disagreements concerning certain small details of Bohannan’s article, not his idea as a whole.


Bohannan begins by expressing his disappointment with the commentators. He is pleased by the concerns they have, but he believes none of them rose to the occasion. He explains that he knew his ideas were incomplete, and the article was simply a request for help. He agrees with the arguments of several of the commentators and wishes they had elaborated more on their own ideas.

TIFFANIE WETER Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Bray, Warwick and Colin Dollery. Coca Chewing and High-Altitude Stress: A Spurious Correlation. Current Anthropology June 1973, 269 – 282

In their article, Warwick Bray and Colin Dollery highlight that coca chewing, previously linked directly to high-altitude use, can be found at all altitudes in South America, particularly the Andes Mountain Region. They begin by addressing botanical information using Plowman as their informant. They discuss the growing conditions, the appearance, and the similarities and differences between the species of coca and other closely related species: Erythroxylum coca, Erythroxylum novogranatense, and Erythroxylum novogranatense truxillense. This survey produces evidence that coca grows both at high altitudes and in the lowlands.

In order to strengthen their hypothesis, Bray and Dollery look at the distribution of coca chewing at the time of European discovery. Using the written accounts of Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci in addition to 16th century documents, they have found that coca chewing occurred in coastal Venezuela and Colombia, inland Colombia, and the Amazon Basin. Coca use in the Andes is unclear, but from a botanical viewpoint Plowman concludes that the plant must have predated European contact.

Organic remains in Peru and Chile provide more insight, where in other areas archaeologists must rely on stone tools and ceramics for evidence. However, archaeological finds reinforce a wide spread use of coca, from Peru (Moche and Nazca) to Ecuador to Colombia, and the Caribbean lowlands. Based on these discoveries Bray and Dollery state that the history of coca could date as far back as 2000 bc.

The next conclusion made by Bray and Dollery relies on “Indianness”. Their research has provided evidence that coca chewing is related to population distribution. In fact, indigenous people today have high coca intake in both the lowlands and highlands, therefore this must be a tradition of their culture.

The article concludes with a pharmacological analysis of cocaine (extracted coca). Here Bray and Dollery explain coca’s pharmacological actions, common methods of coca use, and the purpose of coca in these South American societies. For the indigenous people coca acts as a general stimulant, not a specific high-altitude stress remedy.

Despite the clear, direct nature of Bray and Dollery’s article the commentators make strong rebuttals. They believe that the author’s thesis lacks sufficient evidence and support. Others feel that Bray and Dollery’s viewpoint was too narrow. Some say that their point is over done, their argument could be false, and more research on the subject is needed. Commentators also offer new information and insight.

Bray and Dollery’s rebuttal argues that they are making a general point. Bray and Dollery state that they are not using new information, but that they introduce a time perspective. In a systematic manner, they address discrepancies, new information, and unaddressed topics. In their conclusion, Bray and Dollery admit that much of their evidence is circumstantial.

KATHERINE MCKENNA University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Fleming, Patricia H. The Politics of Marriage Among Non-Catholic European Royalty. Current Anthropology, Vol. 14, (3). Jun., 1973, pp. 231-249.

Patricia Fleming’s article on Marriage in non-Catholic royalty explains the way politics and bloodlines influenced the ascendancy of individuals to positions of power. Religion also played a critical role as the conversion to certain religions was required to obtain certain political positions, as will be explained later.

The author explains that for an individual to become the legal inheritor of a kingdom, he (emphasis intended) must be the first-born legitimate descendant of the present monarch. This means that his mother would have to have been the wife of the monarch, however the wife must also be of royal blood. Therefore, beyond simply biological legitimacy, the new monarch must also have social legitimacy in order to claim the throne. If a monarch bore a female child, the child would have to be the only legitimate child in order to obtain the throne. Otherwise, any other legitimate male born (older or younger) would have obtained the throne.

Political reasons were given for why a monarch would marry someone from another kingdom. This has the obvious benefits of expanding a kingdom and including one’s own bloodline into a possibly more influential one, including the political privilege and influence that kingdom has over its own territories. This is also productive in obtaining rule over a territory that may have formerly been rebellious to one’s sovereignty.

Religious conflicts were eventually inevitable in the marriages. Catholicism dominated countries (i.e. France, Italy) required that spouses from non-Catholic royalty convert to Catholicism in order for the marriage to be accepted as royal. This also has political undertones since non-Catholic countries were everything but enemies of Catholic countries.

The requirements for sovereignty and political power were very strict but reasonable. There were many wealthy individuals with political power due to this wealth, but they were not considered royalty simply because of the bloodline restrictions. The author provides a very complicated and detailed family tree in the article stating the ranks and addresses given to certain individuals of royalty and how relationships affected these titles.

DOUGLAS BURTON University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Fleming, Patricia, H. The Politics of Marriage among Non-Catholic European Royalty.Current Anthropology June, 1973 Vol.14(3):231-250.

Political organization has been studied in many cultures, but there has been little examination of the western European monarchies. This article uses data from non-Catholic royal persons descended from King George I of Britain to explain the circumstances surrounding their marriages and also to construct the rules and beliefs associated with the marriage of royalty. The reining sovereigns and their heirs are used because more data has been collected and the rules were applied more stringently than to non-reigning royalty.

Many factors seem to determine who is considered royal. Kinship plays an important role in royal houses. Biological relationship to a king is not enough to make one a legitimate heir; he or she must also be from two royal parents. Therefore, females who commit adultery are not tolerated as they might ruin the royal blood line. Males may have many mistresses, but none of these children have any right to the royal succession. The amount of political power a monarch has varies, but royal status does not necessarily mean power, nor does power mean royal status. Territory does not decree a person as royal either, for most royalty own territory and they do not lose their royal status even when the country becomes autonomous. Fleming shows through this assessment that only sociological kinship affiliation deems a person to have royal status.

There is also ranking among royalty. Intrafamily ranking determines the term of address that is used with each person in the royal family. The legitimate siblings, sons and daughters of a reigning or deceased sovereign, as well as the son’s children and the children of the heir apparent’s oldest son are considered of higher rank than the rest of the royalty. Some families only have male primogeniture but others allow a woman to succeed to the title. In each case the family would be ranked according to who would be next in line for succession. This is a largely unchangeable system. Interfamily ranking, however, is subject to change according to political power, territory and wealth.

Since status is so important to family ranking and also succession, marriage is seen as a political device. Marriage created a link between two families, creating a network. This could influence or justify political activities. Therefore, this institution was extremely complex and did not take into account the feelings of the children. Many couples showed distaste for one another and occasionally a fiancee would be given to the new heir apparent when the older son died. Religious affiliation played a part in marriage choice as well. A non-Catholic to a Catholic marriage was strongly opposed. Royalty who were married into a different religion were often required or pressured into changing to the religion of the groom. A bride could refuse a marriage based on religious differences. Divorce was highly discouraged and often meant abdication for a sovereign.

Some statistical data were presented concerning the differences between non-reigning and reigning royalty.


Most of the commentators were glad that someone has tackled the topic of kinship in European monarchies. Many had qualms with some of her data being slightly incorrect, including the names of monarchs and reasons for marriage. Also, some conclusions, especially the role of cousin marriages, were questioned.


Fleming reiterates her points in the article, conceding that some of the information she presented was incorrect, due to a limited amount of source material in 1967. She corrects many of these mistakes and stands behind her thesis that marriage is a frequently used technique for gaining political power and prestige.

JANEAN O’BRIEN Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Hahn, Richard A. Understanding Beliefs: An Essay on the Methodology of the Statement and Analysis of Belief Systems. Current Anthropology June, 1973 Vol.14(3):207-229.

This essay is a comprehensive methodology for the study of beliefs and belief systems. It considers the situation of the anthropologist studying the beliefs of natives of whose language and society he is relatively ignorant, but its conclusions are thought to be applicable as well in understanding the beliefs of those speaking the same language and living in the same society.

Hahn’s essay elaborates and recommends a conception of beliefs as general propositions about the world that are consciously held to be true. It suggests that other concepts, beliefs as unconscious as well as conscious, have never been adequately explicated.

The remainder of the essay deals with the logic of the interpretation of beliefs and with the nature of anthropological formulations of foreign belief. Hahn presents a referential theory of translation, arguing that one translates by correlating native utterances with one’s own labels for the situations to which both utterances and labels refer. Hahn then discusses the implications of the dependence of the anthropologist’s data on interaction with natives and the affect of his behavior on the native’s sincerity. The article then discusses the logic by which (1) a series of beliefs is stated as a system and (2) the beliefs and systems so stated are analyzed and compared with others.

The article concludes by enumerating the ways in which anthropologists’ formulations of native beliefs and belief systems are logically interactive products of the beliefs of native and anthropologist. The article relates the study of belief to other disciplines, and discusses some epistemological limits of the knowledge of foreign beliefs.


Many of the commentators had a problem with Hahn’s definition of “belief.” Michel Panoff believes Hahn’s definition is both too broad and too narrow. It is too broad in the sense that everything that anthropologists observe in the field is called “beliefs.” But the definition is too narrow in the sense that only consciously held beliefs are to be considered. The other commentators had similar problems with the definition.


Hahn replies by questioning what Panoff means when he says “everything the anthropologist observes in the field falls into what is here called ‘belief’.” Hahn says that we label many phenomena “belief” and these phenomena have common epistemological features. The anthropologist can make good use of a broad definition by choosing one of the things it covers. Hahn replies that the definition only deals with conscious matters because what counts as evidence of these is relatively clear.

ERIN SUMPTER Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Hahn, Robert A. Understanding Beliefs: An Essay on the Methodology of the Statement and Analysis of Belief Systems. Current Anthropology June, 1973 Vol.14(3):207-229.

Robert Hahn attempts to provide anthropologists with a comprehensive methodology for the study of beliefs and belief systems. To accomplish this he first provides a definition of “belief” and then suggests a way in which anthropologists may discover what beliefs people have. “Beliefs,” as defined by Hahn, are “general propositions about the world (consciously) held to be true.” Further, he claims that a person’s beliefs can be discovered by studying his or her behavior. “Belief rests in the disposition towards behavior symbolic of that belief.” Having set up these definitions, Hahn proceeds to outline his recommended methodology.

The essay is divided into four sections. The first section, “Understanding and Translation” highlights the problems that arise when an anthropologist attempts to translate languages and cultures. To overcome these difficulties, Hahn follows Quine in recommending a referential theory for translation. This says that an anthropologist will translate a native’s “utterances” by associating them with his or her own label that refers to the same situation or event. The second section, “Understanding and Social Interaction” discusses the reliance of data collection on the interactions between the anthropologist and the natives. Further, Hahn looks at the effects this interaction may have on the native’s sincerity. In the third section, “The Statement and Analysis of Belief Structures” Hahn deals with the way in which a series of beliefs is stated as a system and how these “systems” are subsequently analyzed and compared to other systems. The final segment, “Belief System Formulations and Their Methodology” summarizes and connects the previous sections. Hahn also discusses the idea that the analysis of a native belief will necessarily be a result of interactions between the beliefs of the native and those of the anthropologist. Finally, he suggests that there are some epistemological limits to what we can know about foreign beliefs.

In response to this article some questions and criticisms were raised. Erika Bourguignon questions the possibility of the “radical ethnography” used by Hahn as an example. She also finds it difficult to believe that individual and group belief systems are consistent. Hahn agrees that these systems are rarely consistent, however, he claims that he sees no alternative when attempting to create a guideline methodology.

Rodney Needham’s main argument is his claim that anthropologists in general, and Hahn specifically, tend to overlook philosophical arguments about belief. Hahn agrees with this statement as a general trend, but states that, while the sources are not obvious, his subject matter does include philosophical arguments.

Ammon Orent objects to the word “conciously” in Hahn’s definition of belief. Orent thinks that the use of the word “conciously” narrows the study, leaving out important unconious beliefs as well as bringing in the idea of “sincerity” and all the problems involved in attempting to determine sincerity. Hahn responds saying that he, “opts for conciousness because I do not see how one might make’unconcious beliefs’ operationally viable”.

In response to Michel Panoff’s criticism that the definition of belief is too broad, encompasing almost everything that an anthropologist will find in the field, Hahn claims that his definition does indeed eliminate much of what is observed in the field. Further, Hahn reiterates that this is a methodology for the study of belief and one does not need to study all that is considered belief, one can narrow the study by making it more specific.

EMELIE YONALLY-PHILLIPS University of San Diego (Dr. Alana Cordy-Collins).

Harlan R., Jack and de Wet, J.M.J. On the Quality of Evidence for Origin and Dispersal of Cultivated Plants. Current Anthropology February-April, 1973 Vol.14(1-2):51-61.

In this article Harlan and de Wet discuss the quality of data that has been gathered through archeobotany on the dispersal of cultivated plants and how one can determine the accuracy of the data through confidence levels. They ask that each person look at data with skepticism and understand that even though it was gathered with the latest techniques and tools and by highly regarded people, it does not necessarily mean that the data are accurate. There is always a chance for error.

The authors begin their paper by stating that data are qualified and can be expressed in the pseudo equation (item of evidence X qualification = level of confidence). To determine the qualification level, you look at the authenticity, abundance, kind, interpretation, and integration of the data. Authenticity is the primary and basic qualification of data. You determine if it is real, if it has been properly identified, and so on. The next is abundance of the data. In their example they discuss the confidence levels between having one seed of maize and 10,000 seeds. In a site that has 10,000 seeds of maize we can have a high level of confidence that the seeds can be relied upon as evidence. However, with just one seed there is a greater chance that it may not be from the area and that it has simply intruded the site through other means than practical purposes by the people.

The next means of determining confidence is looking at what kind of data you have; whether it is primary, circumstantial, or hearsay. Finding grinding instruments at a site would be primary evidence for grinding technologies, but only circumstantial evidence for saying they were used to grind cultivated wheats. Hearsay, being the least confident level of data, would be reading a manuscript where there is mention of grinding wheats.

Interpretation of the data also has to be taken into consideration when determining confidence levels. There can be many interpretations of data at a site, but some scenarios for why data can be found at a site are more credible than others.

Integration of the data must also be taken into consideration when determining the confidence level placed on evidence. Data that are mutually supportive are said to have high levels of confidence, however, if a datum contradicts many other items at a site, it would have a low confidence level.


Most of the people who commented on this paper praised the authors for pointing out that not all data is equal and even data that is agreed upon or shown to be accurate can still be wrong. They also agreed that people should use some degree of skepticism when using other people’s data, but this should not stop them from using it to test theories. The only real complaint people stated in the comments was the claim that hunter-gatherer societies did little more to the land than large herds of animals did.


The authors didn’t have much of a reply to the comments made on their paper since most people supported their point of view and wrote comments applauding them rather than critiquing them. In reply to the comments about the authors’ statement that hunter-gatherer groups didn’t have much impact on the land, both authors wrote that it was not a main point of the paper and there is insufficient evidence to prove that hunter gatherers have much of an impact on the land they live on.

BRANDON MUIR Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Hewes, Gordon W. Primate Communication and the Gestural Origin of Language. Current Anthropology February-April, 1973 Vol. 14 (1-2):5-24.

Hewes, like many other scholars, supports the gestural theory as the best of the many glottogonic (origin of language) hypotheses. The gestural theory presents the idea that the first human language consisted primarily of gestures and hand/arm signals rather than vocal sounds. Hewes suggests that early hominid vocal language was a result of gestural usage, and was similar to the vocal call system of existing pongids (great apes). With this in mind, it is obvious that protolanguages were simple, restricted, and not like any existing language with phonemes and grammar. Looking comparatively at the cranial size of modern pongids and ancient australopithecines, the australopithecines must have had a cognitive capacity at least equal to or greater than that of great apes. This indicates that australopithecines would have been able to acquire sign language analogous to that of chimpanzees like Washoe, Lucy, Sarah, etc. Hewes uses this comparison to further illustrate his point by stating that if it took these “special” chimpanzees about four years with human intervention to learn sign language, it would have taken australopithecines millions of years to obtain such without a mentor to learn from. Hewes also notes that to have a real language, one must be able to pass that language on to their offspring. The pre-language of australopithecines probably started with vocal calls like those of modern pongids that are chiefly signs of internal and/or external stimuli and not necessarily directed toward others.

Hewes uses the above evidence for the gestural theory to further discredit other glottogonic hypotheses, such as the idea that language was the result of mutation. Or that language was a gift from the gods. According to Hewes, language was not the result of random behavior, but instead was a slow, gradual development. This means that articulate speech, like that of today, was a fairly recent product.

Hewes proposes that early hominids did not possess the “visual-tactile linkage” in the brain that is necessary for actual language to develop. This “linkage” is absent in early hominids, but present in Homo sapiens. The absence of this “linkage” would not have prevented the development of a gestural language, but would have inhibited the emergence of a spoken language. The absence of this component in the fossil record indicates that both Neanderthals and Homo erectus would have been incapable of producing human language, and therefore further supports the gestural hypothesis.

Hewes also addresses the common idea held by many anthropologists that if Homo erectus made tools and used fire, they must have depended on a language system. Hewes argues that the gestural language system would have been sufficient for such activities. Hewes suggests that visual observation, much like today, plays a more important role in learning tool manipulation than actual speech. He does acknowledge that large scale hunting (hunting of large mammals over expanded terrain) would have been nearly impossible without vocal communication. Hewes believes that tool-use may have been the gateway to language. While early hominids were making tools, the sounds they emitted may have become onomatopoeic symbols, thereby initiating the development of a vocal language.

Hewes concludes this essay with a small revision of the gestural theory to formulate a more specific mouth-gesture hypothesis. He believes that mouth-gesture is an intermediate stage between gestural use and spoken language. He presents the idea that vocal language could have become linked with the already present gesture language; more specifically, that the lips, mouth, and tongue movements would roughly “imitate” movements of other body parts used in the gestural language. Hewes claims that this hypothesis is supported by “amassing roots from many unrelated languages,” which in turn show distinct semantic-phonetic universals, but admits it doesn’t explain the transformation completely. All of this supports the notion that a “preexisting gestural language system would have provided an easier pathway to vocal language” than a random/spontaneous outgrowth.

Comments: The majority of the commentators support the various ideas and arguments that Hewes presents. Many supporters offer additional suggestions/ideas, while others voice a few reservations. Even though many advocate the bulk of Hewes’ paper, a few think he exploits and misinterprets some of his references and citations.

Hewes has three major adversaries: Andrew, Nottebohm, and Washburn. They all think that Hewes is reaching for connections that aren’t there. They believe his (mouth-) gestural hypothesis to be unwarranted and unsupported. They accuse Hewes of misinterpreting data and ignoring information that is detrimental to his hypothesis.

Response: Hewes takes time to address each commentator’s remarks, both positive and negative. He takes all of the criticism well by either providing further evidence for his previously stated points or by accepting the contrasting ideas as a possibility worthy of further investigation. In the cases of Andrew, Nottebohm, and Washburn, Hewes gets somewhat defensive and presents evidence to discredit their ideas thereby strengthening his own. Hewes is very accepting of new ideas that prove to further support his gestural hypothesis. For example, he supports Kortlandt’s idea that chimpanzee infant babbling was suppressed as a defense against leopard predation, thereby inhibiting language development and causing a later emergence of vocal language. He also supports Krantz’s idea that increased exposure to areas with longer hours of darkness due to expansion of human range to higher latitudes would have selected for vocally assisted gestures. Overall, Hewes used his reply to further support his paper. He ends by saying, “I am pleased that my paper provoked both controversy and suggestion for further research.”

JESSICA HARTEL Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Hewes, Gordon W. Primate Communication and the Gestural Origin of Language. Current Anthropology February-April, 1973. Vol.14(1-2):5-24.


It is quite unlikely that vocal language suddenly came into existence, but rather it slowly evolved overtime from first a gestural language. The evolution process was impacted greatly by the changing of environmental conditions and the advancement of culture through the broadening of views, the development of more complex technology and through the fostering of a more intricate social system.

Recent studies of chimpanzees and other primates has presented evidence that shows man’s first language was more than likely based on gestural hand and arm movements, not on sound or vocalizations. It is thought that language developed through the creation of tools and the necessity to pass on a description of their use to one another. Also, the need for communication may have developed through the hunting of large mammals which would have required organization and team work which could not have been accomplished without some sort of communication.

The question remains as to how the switch from a gestural to vocal language occurred. Darwin has previously suggested that hand and finger movements were accompanied by mouth movements, including the tongue. It is thought that the evolvement of culture has influenced the need for a vocal language. The use of gestures takes longer than speaking, requires more energy, takes away the ability to use ones hands at the same time, and may not always be a clear way in which to communicate across distances and obstructed views.

Although some sort of vocal language has evolved worldwide, within all cultures, the use of gestures did not disappear altogether. Instead, it “persisted as a common accompaniment of speech, either as a kinesic paralanguage for conveying nuances, emphasis, or even contradiction of the spoken language.

COMMENTARY: All of the reviews of this article were positive, however some of the commentators thought that the article was too concise and that it does not review different aspects of the problems involved. However, it is thought that Hewes provided an ample amount evidence to support his hypothesis.

REPLY: Hewes was “pleased that [his] paper provoked both controversy and suggestions for further research” and provided even more evidence to back up his research or to refute suggestions and/or comments of various commentators.

JENNIFER REID University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Hewes, Gordon W. Primate Communication and the Gestural Origin of Language. Current Anthropology, 1973 Vol.14(1):65-84/ 1992 Vol.33(1)

The theory that language first started by communicative gestures by primates is supported by Hewes in this article. Hewes draws on gestural and spoken language research done with chimpanzees, mainly by Gardner and Gardner with the chimpanzee Wahsoe as well as others. The early hominid australopithecines probably acquired a basic gestural sign language, since they were at least as intelligent (if not more) as current chimps that have learned sign language with the assistance of human researchers. In Homo erectus, it is even more probable that gestural language was used, since they needed to communicate effectively amongst themselves about environmental data during large hunts. Language development, even that of gestural language was most likely a very slow process. Primates are able to “read” signals from other species such as gestures, expressions and postures. Research has shown that modern pongids can read, decode, and imitate these signs, and thus pass on these meaning-laden gestures, like when a young chimp imitates an elder when he “dances” after a successful hunt, for example. These gestures then become a motor “name”. Hewes argues that language evolved in this way of tactile and motor gestures, rather than through primate vocalization. Vocalization in primates mostly stem from emotional reasons and are not used for communication, rather imitating is used for communication ideas and information. During the Lower Paleolithic, gestural language probably reached its’ peak usage, then in the Upper Paleolithic as man improved his hunting skills and auditory receptiveness to his prey and environment, primate language shifted to that of a vocalized one.

COMMENTS: Some commentators, such as Carini, Nottebohm and McBride, disagree that gestural language could possibly give rise to vocal language because they gestures do not constitute an actual language. Rumbaugh, Wahsburn and Wescott mention in their comments that discrepancies exist in studies of primate language because other primates (mainly chimpanzees and orangutans) have not developed spoken language like humans, and are therefore are poor models to study.

REPLY: In reply, Hewes addresses each reviewer’s comments, offering clarification when needed. To Carini, Hewes demonstrates the validity of a gestural language by raising the modern example of American Sign Language as a complete language system. To Washburn, the author says the experiments with Washoe, as well as the reconstruction of the vocal tracts of extinct primates based on fossil records, serve as evidence that studying other primates may offer insight into the evolution of spoken language in humans.

CELIA RUPP University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)

Liu, Pin-hsiung. Murngin: A Mathematical Solution. Current Anthropology February – April, 1973. Vol. 14(1-2): 103-110.

This article is actually the précis from Liu’s book Murngin: A Mathematical Solution (1970). It is followed by five reviews from scholars who respond to Liu’s entire book, not just the précis. Finally, Liu answers the points raised by the reviewers in his reply.

In this work, Liu is interested in describing and interpreting kinship systems through mathematics. This “kinship mathematics” was, according to the author, developed by Weil in 1949, and elaborated by a host of scholars, most notably White. Liu first critiques the work of his predecessors and notes many “controversial problems.” In particular, he examines their methodology, which he claims ignores “important anthropological phenomena such as the regulation of marriage rules among descent groups.”

Liu then proposes a new mathematical approach for analyzing prescriptive marriage systems. This approach is grounded on the following working hypothesis: “A matrilateral cross-cousin marriage system is characterized by an n-generation cycle, where the marriage alliance (or circulating connubium) is derived from n number of hordes or exogamous units, the minimum number for n being 3.” Liu then applies this hypothesis to his study of Murngin society.

What follows is a set of mathematical calculations that are far too advanced for this reader to follow. Suffice it to say that Liu concludes that his hypothesis is incomplete. To accurately describe the Murngin system, the author offers the following addendum to his original hypothesis: “When the generation cycle governing the hordes is fixed as p, and p>1, then the other descent line (one being patrilineal, the other matrilineal) will be regulated by a q-generation cycle, with q being the least common multiple of p and n.”


Three of the five reviews of Liu’s book are, on the whole, unfavorable. J.A. Barnes finds Liu’s mathematics sound but longwinded, and argues that “mathematical solutions of even the most complicated games are poor substitutes for sociological analyses of how the games are actually played.” Edmund R. Leach contends that Liu’s analysis is based on poor data and that “there is no justification for pursuing this sterile debate.” John Hickman and William Stuart maintain that “Liu sidesteps many of the most salient tests of his formulation,” though they do applaud his effort to include mathematics in anthropological analysis.

Charles McNutt and A.C. van der Leeden both write more favorable reviews. McNutt compliments Liu for producing an “exuberant” work, though he does raise a few questions that do not “detract from the equally obvious accomplishments of the work.” Van der Leeden finds the book very intriguing and akin to structural anthropological analysis, but he admits that he does not understand “half of [Liu’s] purely mathematical argumentation.”

In his reply, Pin-hsiung Liu answers the points raised by the reviews, especially Leach and Barnes’ allegation that Liu failed to address Shapiro’s work among the Arnhem. Liu goes on to rebuild the arguments he made in his book, often with the aid of complex mathematical calculations and kinship diagrams.

ANDREW MILLER Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Liu, Pin-hsiung. Mungin: A Mathmatical Solution. Current Anthropology February-April, 1973 Vol.14(1-2):103-110.

In response to ideas raised by Weil in 1949, a mathematical approach to marriage and kinship structures was established. Liu presents a hypothesis to establish a new mathematical method that takes into account important distinctions such as that between first cousin marriages and uncle-niece marriages. The proposed hypothesis is presented as a solution to the deficiencies seen in the first models, and the Murngin matrilateral cross-cousin marriage system is used to verify the effectiveness of this generalized model of cross-cousin marriage. In the generalized model, the marriage system is characterized by an n-generation cycle in which the marriage alliance is derived from n number of hordes or exogamous units. Taking into account the “Murngin’s sixty odd patrilineal hordes” and the two intermarrying moieties with four subdivisions each, Liu shows mathematically that the hypothesis is sound when the typical four clans are involved in a marriage alliance. However, a fixed four-generation cycle is seen in the Murngin system independent of the number of clans involved in the alliance, which is unusual. Liu accounts for this observed trend by showing how the problem may be solved by modifying the general model.

The reviews raised a few questions and criticisms. The first critic is from J.A. Barnes who said that, while sound, the generalized model of kinship marriages is merely a mathematical puzzle. He continued with a suggestion the Liu take Shapiro’s data on the Murngin systems into account. John M. Hickman and William T. Stuart claim that Liu is not taking into account the functionally and structurally independent natures of the section and alliance systems. They also suggest that this model does not work for “alternate” marriages. Charles H. McNutt questions Liu’s presentation of the material claiming that in places it may be redundant. A. C. Van Der Leeden also raises the problems concerning “alternate” marriages.

In reply to the criticisms and problems proposed Liu attempts to clarify. Liu claims that mathematics can be a very useful tool for more than puzzle solving if we use them correctly. Secondly, in his book he has taken into account Shapiro’s findings and they have supported his hypothesis. Further, his method does account for “alternate” marriages if you correctly interpret the mathematical diagrams. Finally, in response to McNutt, Liu claims that full explanations may be necessary to clarify points not previously discussed.

Liu gives a thorough explanation, however, as a purely mathematical solution, a fairly good conception of mathematical terminology and ability to interpret diagrams is necessary for full comprehension.

EMELIE YONALLY-PHILLIPS University of San Diego (Dr. Alana Cordy-Collins).

Livingstone, Frank. Did the Australopithecines Sing? Current Anthropology February- April, 1973 Vol.14(1-2):25-29.

Frank Livingstone suggests that Lower and Middle Pleistocene hominids used singing as a communication system. He says that through singing language would develop for later man. The article uses many examples to suggest this theory. One example was research by Hackett and Ascher on how birds communicate. Throughout, the article uses examples on the communication of birds to support the theory. Research on the call systems of Rhesus monkeys is also used.

Livingstone’s basis for the theory is research on the many ways in which birds communicate. As with birds, Livingstone says that early man sang to attract mates. Livingstone notes that primates use call systems to identify other group members, find mates, and to hunt. Since primates are man’s closest relatives, early humans also must have had some kind of call system.


The commentators did not agree with Livingstone’s theory. Many suggest that Livingstone is only dealing with half of the problem. They suggest that he is not looking at the neurological capacity for symbolic thought. There were suggestions that maybe it was gestures rather then singing that brought about language. Some feel that Livingstone was not very clear as to what he meant by singing as a system, with only pitch as a distinguishing feature. Roger Wescott suggest that australopithecines were whistlers and used gestures rather then singing.


Livingstone’s reply to the comments is that singing is the framework of a new idea that early man sang as a form of communication.

CASEY GAINES Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja).

Mandelbaum, David G. The Study of Life History: Gandhi. Current Anthropology June 1973, 177-206

In his account, “The Study of Life History: Gandhi”, Mandelbaum focuses on two key ideas: the basic life history study and the life of Gandhi. Mandelbaum begins by addressing the concept of a life study from an evolving anthropological standpoint. He states that such studies focus on the life of an individual and particularly the changes that occur within one’s life as a result of his or her character and his or her personal experiences. Although life history studies have been conducted in anthropology and other social sciences such as sociology and political science, Mandelbaum recognizes the idiosyncrasies of each discipline. When dealing with an anthropological study one must be wary of bias, misconstrued perceptions, and research padding. Mandelbaum discusses his procedural design for a life study. He divides the plan into three segments: dimensions (or aspects of a person’s life), turnings (both principal and the time in between individual turnings), and adaptations (180). The dimension can be divided again into biological, cultural, social, and psychological with each factor adding to an individual’s base. The turnings are analyzed in reference to major transitional events and periods in one’s life. The third segment, adaptation, deals with the end result and the ability of an individual to adjust to the new. In order to illustrate his point, Mandelbaum uses the life of Gandhi as an example. Gandhi’s life is a useful illustration as his turnings and adjustments are clearly defined and his thoughts, deeds, personal habits, and whims are copiously detailed (182). On the other hand Gandhi’s celebrity status also questions his validity as an example. Mandelbaum continues to recount and highlight the events of Gandhi’s life from cultural standards to his youth, to his journeys in England and South Africa, and to his political and world status while interspersing commentary on Gandhi’s reactions and adaptations to these experiences. Finally, Mandelbaum concludes his article by reflecting on this example and his specific use of dimensions, turnings, and adaptations. He commences by reuniting his example with his idea for the study of life history, saying that this approach will help redefine the image of man in social science and will provide a greater knowledge of the people, the life, and the times of such studies.

On the whole, the commentary provided with “The Study of Life History: Gandhi” questions Mandelbaum’s tactics and ideas. The commentators do not deny the validity of Mendelbaum’s ideas, but suggest ways to improve and/or reanalyze his plan. Some commentaries also dispute Mandelbaum’s use of a well-known figure such as Gandhi and his analysis of the society and the culture.

Mandelbaum responded to these comments by stating that the commentary addresses the basic problems of any new idea in the social sciences. He acknowledges that his study intends to question the reader. Therefore, he has allowed that subsequent findings may modify his original ideas.

KATHERINE MCKENNA University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Mandelbaum, David G. The Study of Life History: Gandhi. Current Anthropology June, 1973 Vol. 14 (3): 177-206.

In this article Mandelbaum first outlines the importance of life histories. He says that life histories shed light on the relations between the stages of life, the patterns of personal conduct, the bearing of personal experience to social institutions, and the impact of personal choice on social change. He quotes Redfield (1955) as saying that life histories raise new questions and problems such as the changing states of mind in the span of a life, the prospective quality of a person’s life, the influence of ideals on behavior, and the differences among what a man thinks ought to happen, what he expects to happen, and what he actually does. This, he states, will bring anthropologists to the real and ultimate raw material of his study. Mandelbaum says that the potential of life histories is hindered chiefly by “the lack of accepted principles of selection, of suitable analytic concepts to make up a coherent frame of reference.” To alleviate this problem he proposes three guidelines for a new frame: dimensions, turnings, and adaptations.

Under the heading “Dimensions” Mandelbaum lists four components: biological, cultural, social, and psychosocial. In the biological dimension, he insists, one should write about the ego’s organic makeup and somatic development, keeping in mind the biological differences between men and women. The cultural dimension should cover the mutual expectations, understandings, and behavior patterns accepted by the people with whom the subject has lived. The social dimension of a life history has to do with the individual’s social acts, conflicts, solutions, and choices. In the psychosocial dimension the individual’s subjective world and his general feelings and attitudes are discussed.

Mandelbaum feels that another important element to life histories should be “turnings.” These can be called life-changing events, though they can be a true “turning point” or a gradual shift from one way of life to another. A turning occurs when an individual takes on a new set of roles (cultural), enters into fresh relations with a new set of people (social), or acquires a new self-conception (psychosocial).

Adaptations, according to Mandelbaum, should also be an important part of any life history. Through an individuals life several things change, both culturally and personally. The way that the individual adjusts his or her life to adapt to social and physical change has bearing on the individual’s ability to survive as an individual and within a social group.

For a better understanding of Mandelbaum’s method for doing life histories, he includes a life history of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He chose Gandhi because he was a great man with great ideas and his life was well documented. This line of reasoning seems a little flawed to me. Why write a life history about a great man whose life was far outside of the cultural norm, from second or even third hand sources? The life history is very professionally arranged according to the frame given by Mandelbaum.


Eight pages of comments follow Mandelbaum’s article. Several points are brought up, from differences in procedure to different ideas about motivating factors and determinants in Gandhi’s life. The question was even brought up whether life histories should be applied to the study of culture.


Mandelbaum attempts to answer all the comments in his three-page reply. He takes the criticism well and restates the fact that his model is only a beginning for the more useful design of life histories. He also says that life histories are an excellent tool for testing cultural theories and for discovering the role of the individual in society.

ERIC SCOUTEN Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

McCall, Grant. Anthropology in Scandinavia. Current Anthropology February-April, 1973 Vol.14: 65-72.

The main concern of this article is to inform the reader about the Nordic Work Group in Ethnology and Folklore (NEFA). This organization was created in 1963 during the 16th Scandinavian Folklife and Folklore Research Congress. Several students who attended this meeting became concerned about the lack of communication between ethnologists and folklorists in Scandinavia. They then formed the Nordic Student Committee in Ethnology and Folklore in order to promote communication between the fields. They would change their name to NEFA two years later. NEFA actively works in the teaching of ethnology and folklore, in research, and related theoretical questions.

NEFA has strived to be as informal an organization as possible. It is made up of several small local groups that meet to discuss ideas and problems in their research. Each local group is called a lokal. Every lokal has a representative who attends larger joint meetings, promoting his or her lokal’s points, and then relates back to the lokal the information from the meeting. In this way, NEFA keeps its organization solidly with the students and avoids being too rigidly professional.

NEFA began to publish its journal, Nord-Nytt, in December 1963. The first journals were not much more than newsletters. By 1967 the journal took on its present form, which consists of formal articles written by NEFA members. Several of the articles published are products of NEFA’s field seminars. These seminars exist to help students gain experience in fieldwork. More advanced students and senior ethnologists assist the younger students while they complete their field projects. The goal of the field project is not the publication of the articles, it is for the student to gain experience in fieldwork. The article’s publication is merely a secondary result of this experience.

The comment provided by Larsten Legdsmand and Ovar Lofgren further describe the role of NEFA. While they feel McCall did an excellent job in describing the NEFA, they reiterate the point that NEFA is an organization for students created by students. Most of the research is done by undergraduate and post-graduate students. They also strive to broaden the range of the journal’s content beyond folklore and ethnology of the European peasant class.

STEVEN SCHAEFER Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

McCall, Grant. Scandinavia’s NEFA. Current Anthropology Feb, 1973 Vol. 14:65-72.

Due to dissatisfaction in the lack of communications between Scandinavian folklorists and ethnologists, NEFA was created by the two disciplines. It stands for Nordisk Ethnlogisk-Folkloristisk Arbejdsgruppe (Scandinavian Ethnologist and Folklore Group). The anthropologist’s goal was to create a Scandinavian organization that would bring together the coordination of ethnologists and folklorists.

NEFA is a very informal organization with local groups meeting called lokal. The primary areas that NEFA is involved with are research and related theoretical questions and the teaching of ethnology and folklore. These areas can be expanded in the journal Nord-Nytt, which is published by the organization. NEFA also has field seminars that were inaugurated in 1965.

Recently NEFA has put an emphasis on ethnological research projects that show a trend that involves scientists relating their work to human society. In the future NEFA will serve as a vehicle to fuse social science work in Scandinavia.

JEN WEDO University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Mourant, A.E. The Evolution of Brain Size, Speech, and Psychosexual Development. Current Anthropology February-April, 1973 Vol.14(1-2):25-29.

In this article, Mourant studies the development of speech and thought amongst humans. He attempts to establish the period in which this progression from thought to speech occurred in human evolution. This research begins by introducing Comfort’s theory that the human development of speech is directly related to the onset of puberty. He uses Freud’s theory that puberty is not only a physical change, but also an emotional and psychological change as evidence to support his argument. The interactions and development that the human body undergoes during adolescence are influential in the types of relationships that humans form with one another. Therefore, it affects the mode and occurrence of human communication. In other words, puberty causes a need to find a method of communication in order to “cope” with the change. This need is what gave rise to communication through speech.

Krantz then takes a different approach by relating the human brain capacity to the period when speech developed. The brain must reach a certain capacity before speech can be developed, modern humans reach this point during infancy. Before humans evolved, this capacity was not reached until adulthood. Because the process of brain development was slower during the ancient periods, there was little time in a human’s life to make advancements, thus impeding the development of new ideas. It was not until the human brain evolved to a certain capacity that speech began.

Mourant illustrates that despite the two different hypotheses asserted by these anthropologists, they simultaneously compliment one another. The need for a mode of communication and the ability to create it were both necessary for speech to develop. He proceeds to formulate his own theory that speech began once the time period when the brain reached its capacity overlapped the time when humans experienced puberty. The change in the body demanded a mode of communication, and it was not until this time that the brain was able to facilitate this. The combination of the two became the point when humans developed speech.

KELLEY SIBLEY University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Naroll, Raoul., and R. Cohen. A Handbook of Method in Cultural Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1973 Vol.14(3):251-261


A Handbook of Method in Cultural Anthropology is a guide for researching and analyzing cultural anthropological data. The book is divided into seven parts which address the problems of epistemology, field methods and ethnocentricity. Naroll and Cohen are two editors who wrote this book as a way of standardizing an ideal design of anthropological methods.

The topic of Part I is epistemological problems. Part II focuses on causal analysis, biographical information, source criticism and historical analysis. Part III of the book concentrates on anthropological fieldwork. Part IV addresses different problems of analysis including cultural and role analysis. Ethnoscience as a means of analysis is also discussed. Parts V, VI and VII focus on methodology and various study types.

Methodological problems of worldwide cross-cultural studies are presented in which Naroll and Cohen recommends the use of the cross-cultural survey method. Problems of categorical development are also discussed. As a means of solving these problems the authors present ten general criteria for defining whole societies or cultures.

A Handbook of Method in Cultural Anthropology gives a standardized text for the study of cultural anthropology. Systems of methodology, categorization, and analysis of data are presented in this book.


There are many great reviews of A Handbook of Method in Cultural Anthropology. The need for such a standardized text of methodology is expressed.


The author overcomes one criticism of the books price. He states that the new paperback edition will only cost $15.

JESSICA CLARK University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Naroll, Raoul and Ronald Cohen. A Handbook of Method in Cultural Antrhopology. Current Anthropology June, 1973 Vol.14 (3):251-261.

This article is a book review of A Handbook of Method in Cultural Anthropology. It begins with the editors’ précis, moves on to reviews of the book from various scholars, and then ends with the editors’ replies to the scholars’ comments.

The book was “…conceived in a series of talks and memoranda exchanged by the two editors concerning the ideal curriculum for methodological training in graduate anthropology.” Naroll and Cohen found that the literature concerning this issue was extremely scarce and that by editing a book they could explain anthropological method in the ways they see fit.

In the first part of the book the authors deal with epistemological problems in the discipline; how anthropologists make generalizations from ethnographic data and probability theory as a part of cognition and science. In the second part of the book they discuss problems of causal analysis, bibliography, source criticism, and historical analysis. They then move on to fieldwork and discuss careful planning techniques for fieldwork, problems that often arise in the field, and the nature of fieldwork. The fourth part of the book turns the focus on theory rather than technique. It discusses how a person must approach the analysis of a culture and how it is useful to try and create an understanding of the culture as a whole. The last parts of the book deal with comparative studies and methodological problems of worldwide cross-cultural studies.


For the most part, commentators were pleased with the outline of the book and praised the authors for their work in assimilating articles and essays. Where there were negative comments, they generally dealt with portions of the book rather than the whole thing. Joseph Jorgensen remarked that “The most weakly developed part of the comparative methodology section is statistical data analysis.” There were reviews, however, that disagreed with the editors on some major points. Perhaps the comment that got the most response was from J. De Leeuwe who said it is good to reject extremism in comparative and non-comparative quarters, but the essential struggle is between Marxists and anti-Marxists.


Cohen, in his reply, wrote that he understood reviewing such a large book was a difficult task and that overlooking parts of the book would easily lead to mistakenly blaming the authors for leaving out crucial points. For a large part of his reply he tried to point this out by showing where in the book things were. He did a good job in replying to most of the reviews and acknowledges the mistakes the reviewers made.

In Naroll’s reply, he mostly discusses the publishing of the book and its pricing, which was mentioned by a reviewer, and J. De Leeuwe’s comment about the Marxist views. With regard to the pricing of the book, Naroll said that it was being reprinted in a paperback form and that its price would be 15 dollars. In reply to J. De Leeuwe’s comments on Marxist views, Naroll said that he was interested in Marxist theories and would like to see more studies done on them, but at the time of the writing there had not been enough adequate testing of the theories to argue Marxist concepts.

BRANDON MUIR Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Rasmussen, Christian Heilskov. A Biographical Bibliography of Scandinavian Anthropologists. Current Anthropology February-April, 1973 Vol.14: 73-82.

This article is a companion article to McCall’s. Rasmussen and McCall felt there was a need to create a bibliography to show the broad range of Scandinavian anthropologists. It gives as complete a listing of as many Scandinavian anthropologists as Rasmussen and McCall could compile. This bibliography is not to be taken as complete but as an invitation for others to help complete it.

STEVEN SCHAEFER Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)

Rasmussen, Christian. A Biographical Bibliography of Scandinavian Anthropologists.Current Anthropology Feb-April, 1973 Vol.14:73-82.

Throughout Scandinavia, there arose a need for a survey of Scandinavian anthropology. This led to the creation of a Scandinavian anthropology bibliography. Christian Rasmussen explains what the biography consists off and how it is chosen.

The criteria that Rasmussen used to decide who is an anthropologist includes anyone who works within the disciplines of cultural anthropology, social anthropology, physical anthropology, ethnology or folklore. Archaeology, linguistics, and pre-history disciplines were not included. Questionnaires were sent out to various institutions and researchers, curators, teachers and advanced students. The questions asked included interests, current projects and major publications. Despite this many people did not respond, so the bibliography does not show the exact number of anthropologists in Scandinavia.

The interests mentioned within the biography are not traditional categories. This is due to the number of younger scholars who are included in the bibliography. These scholars are embracing the core disciplines such as folklore, ethnology and social anthropology. This creates a growing cooperation and encouragement among these disciplines. This cooperation has also extended to disciplines such as sociology, psychology and philosophy. Through Rasmussen, the Scandinavian bibliography can continue to encourage anthropologists to report their work in Scandinavia and throughout the world.

JEN WEDO University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Szalay, Lorand and B. Maday. Verbal Associations in the Analysis of Subjective Culture.Current Anthropology February–April, 1973 Vol. 14 (1-2): 33-49.

Szalay and Maday are interested in mapping the mental categories that a person takes from their culture and uses to conceptualize reality. The authors refer to Whorf’s notion of a “thought world,” a linguistic and conceptual model that one uses to organize and interpret the world. They are interested in developing an “empirical analysis” that would allow one to objectively measure and map an individual’s thought world, and then, by combining analyses of several individuals in the same culture, measure and map the thought world of the culture as a whole. Szalay and Maday propose that a “free verbal association” exercise, executed according to their parameters, is just the sort of analysis that would allow for the mapping of a culture’s thought world. This article describes the results the authors obtained from performing this exercise on a group of 100 subjects.

Szalay and Maday used two groups of fifty people for their study, one composed of U.S. students and the other of Korean students living in the United States. They asked each group to perform two tasks. First, they were to “list 25 important domains of life (in five minutes), and to write as many associative responses as possible to each of the domains.” Second, “the subjects were given sets of randomly ordered cards, each carrying twelve occurrences of one of the stimulus words in Step 1. In the blank space that followed each occurrence, subjects were asked to write a free verbal association.” The authors then did a series of statistical computations to arrive at a general picture of which “domains” the two groups found important, and which words they associated with their chosen domains.

The authors assume that the categories or “domains” of life (e.g. family, religion, education) that people see as important, as well as the words they associate with these domains, reveal the individual’s psychological categories. Furthermore, when these domains are taken from a large group of individuals belonging to a single culture, the worldview of the culture can be described. For this article, Szalay and Maday focus on education, a domain with high salience for both groups. With the aid of complex “semantographs” that are meant to graphically represent the categories of meaning that exist in the minds of their American and Korean subjects, the authors argue that analysis of their data reveals that the two groups conceptualize “education” differently.

Specifically, the authors identify seven ways in which American students and Korean students living in the United States conceptualize “education” differently. One, Americans emphasize formal schooling, while Koreans have a “broader” view. Two, Americans emphasize “accumulation of knowledge”; Koreans include moral and social considerations in their definition of “education.” Three, for Americans education develops intelligence, while for Koreans it also develops personality and “good character.” Four, Koreans see intellectuals and leaders as the “personifiers” of education, rather than educators themselves. Five, unlike the American emphasis on a private experience, Koreans view education as social and communal. Six, Americans emphasize educational institutions; Koreans focus on people. Seven, the Koreans see students as part of the intelligentsia and also as potential leaders.


Most of the ten comments on this article applaud Szalay and Maday’s attempt to unite empirical psychological analysis with anthropology, but they question whether the authors’ methodology is as objective and reliable as they claim. John Blacking, in particular, refers to their analysis as a “parlour game,” and Jack Frisch, Alan Healey, Pierre Maranda, Peter Powesland, and Vilmos Voight call different aspects of their method and analysis into question. Bernhard Bock, J. L. Fischer, and others generally approve of Szalay and Maday’s work, and also offer additional methods. In their reply, Szalay and Maday take every point raised by the commentators individually, and attempt to clarify and reassert their arguments.

ANDREW MILLER Southwest Missouri State University (William Wedenoja)