Current Anthropology 1976

Chilungu, Simeon W. Issues in the Ethics of Research Method: An Interpretation of the Anglo-American Perspective. Current Anthropology, 1976 Vol. 17 No.3: 457-481

Simeon Chilungu’s article examines the subject of Western bias in current anthropological methodology. As an African anthropologist educated in America, Chilungu observes widespread prejudice within the terms and methods among past and contemporary anthropologists He believes this conveys a decidedly western epistemology. The author points out that there are issues to be addressed in three particular areas of anthropological research: data collection, description and analysis, and information dispersal. He asserts that most anthropological texts do not record the research methods used, and he takes issue with the prevalent use of “in our culture”, “our”, and “us”, suggesting that anthropologists have been aiming at a selected audience.

Regarding the area of data collection, Chilungu believes that the selection criteria for “target cultures” primarily include that the given culture be foreign, exotic, and primitive. He also suggests that it would be helpful not harmful to include indigenous people as principal ethnographic researchers, citing their invaluable contributions in many anthropological endeavors. Chilungu feels that there is no objectivity in anthropology as it exists today because those brought up in a Western manner inherently lack objectivity due to “monopolarization”. He also criticizes the emerging trends of “anthropology camouflaged” and “anthropology disguised”, in which scientists do their research unnoticed, as unethical and suggests that anthropology should be “displaying research skills which are universally acceptable”. His key complaint with data collection, though, lies with the practice of opportunistic sampling instead of probabilistic sampling. He feels that using a small sample group or selecting particular subjects without representing the full demographic range can lead to unwarranted generalizations about the entire culture. He attributes the lack of this methodological training to the homogenistic logic of Western anthropology, the thought that somehow all people in a given culture will display identical behavioral characteristics.

In the description and analysis of anthropological data, Chilungu has several issues to press. He suggests that while Western anthropologists are known for their qualitative analyses, such as wide ranging descriptions of all known behaviors and events, they ignore such issues as frequency and intensity. This can, he argues, lead to defective conclusions about various cultural traits. Chilungu also states that wherever exact probabilities can be provided, they should be. He says that generalized assumptions and complaisance with verbal description have allowed inaccurate and biased ideas to slip into the information being presented.

Chilungu is particularly concerned about information dispersion in the field of anthropology. He points out that much of the work being published use words that communicate a feeling of Western superiority. He maintains that the word “primitive” occurs particularly often in anthropological literature, also in many titles. Even if it is clearly defined in an anthropological context, the author still feels that the existence of such words perpetuates unneeded stereotypes associated with indigenous peoples. He also finds fault in the wide use of the words “mutilation”, “tribe”. Mutilation, he suggests, is a highly subjective term. He observes that this term is never applied to circumcision, a Western tradition, while it is used profusely in regards to many non-Western people. Chilungu has further concluded that anthropology as it has been taught is essentially the study of non-Western people by Western people and therefore carries with it a racial factor that cannot be ignored.


J.A. Barnes comments that most of what Chilungu has to say about collecting quantitative data and probabilistic sampling is common sense and simply good advice for all social scientists. He observes that all of Chilungu’s examples are drawn from Anglophone anthropologists and sociologists and ignore the other “imperial traditions” such as the French and Dutch. He also takes issue with Chilungu’s problem with so many words in the anthropological lexicon. He feels that using terms like ethnic and mutilation and tribe must be treated as dynamic terms to be used carefully but effectively.

Jean Copans feels that a history of anthropological theory, which Chilungu mentioned, would be very helpful in tackling some of the issues at hand. In understanding the development of anthropological thinking, one could gain a more objective perspective on the discipline and how it is administered. Copans feels also that the bias of Western anthropology is neither cultural nor psychological, but rather lies in the political and ideological effects of the colonial relationship that the Western world established with so-called primitive societies.

Johannes Fabian seriously disagrees with most of the issues Chilungu explores. He states that “if Chilungu were right – that good and just social science can only thrive on random sampling and probability calculations – his paper should be thrown on the same scrap heap of soft-headed, biased anthropology which he reserves for most of the works he cites. Fabian suggests that the solution to the problem lies not with ethics but rather with the search for the object of anthropology, getting at its ideological and theoretical foundations. He also feels that overuse of probabilistic sampling and data prediction will degrade communication between anthropologists.


To Barnes, Chilungu argues that similar prejudices would likely be found in any examination of the French, Russian, Dutch, German, or Spanish anthropological works. He also admits that he has been influenced by Western tradition, having been educated in America. However, he feels that his Buksu African background weighs just as heavy and that all anthropologists carry with them certain cultural predispositions.

In response to Copans’s criticisms about where the prejudice in anthropology lies, the author argues that indeed “politics, economics, ideology, language” are part of any culture. Chilungu argues that his original text never included Copans’s distinctions. He maintains that his examples were meant to display the inherent bias that lies in the Western anthropological lexicon that so many anthropologists worldwide are expected to accept.

To Fabian, the author replies that the only communication that would be eliminated would be “false information,…biological and sociocultural prejudice. To the comments on the accusations pertaining to his own biases, Chilungu had nothing to say.

JARED OLESEN Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Chilungu, Simeon W. Issues in the Ethics of Research Method: An Interpretations of the Anglo-American Perspective. Current Anthropologist September, 1976 Vol.17(3):457-480.

This article is a direct discussion of the ethnocentric and biased perspective of Anglo-Americans, as seen by a non-western anthropologist. Originally from Africa, Simeon Chilungu notices a discrepancy between how the work of western and non-western anthropologists is perceived. He states that non-western anthropologists are held to a higher standard than western anthropologists and are more likely to be called naïve, illogical or unreasonable than by someone from the West. Based on these observations, Chilungu researched the bias of the Anglo-American perspective intent on defining the elements of Anglo-American thinking, as well as the reasoning regarding the methods of research they apply in non-western cultures.

Chilungu begins by summarizing the data collection method of participant observation, emphasizing the point that within participant observation a person of western origin will at their discretion use negative and sometimes derogatory language when describing a non-western culture, something they would never apply to their own culture. Here Chilungu also analyzes the fallibility of data collection methods specifically addressing the point that when published, many anthropologists neglect to advise the reader of their data collection methods or at times where they specifically were located while collecting the data.

Moving on to the idea of accountability, Chilungu again notes differences in what a western versus a non-western anthropologist would be held accountable for. To further his point, Chilungu obtained a copy of Miner’s “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” a parody of specific American customs and interviewed fifty-two people. Chilungu himself states that the interviewees were not a random representational sample but believes that his findings are the first step in alerting western anthropologists to their biased perspective. His findings from this article are that of the people interviewed, the vast majority found the culture they were reading about to be primitive and would themselves not want to live in it. Chilungu concludes his argument with five recommendations on how to improve the field of anthropology by educating new students not only in correct data collection methods but also in being more open to non-western people and ideas.


This article generated a large number of responses, many questioning the validity of his argument. J.A. Barnes, Jean Copans, Johannes Fabian, Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Joseph Jorgensen, Andre Kobben, Satish Saberwal, Bob Scholte, W.G. Studdert-Kennedy, Sol Tax, and A. Watchtel all dispute Chilungu’s argument, stating in A. Wachtel’s terms, that he described, dissected and distorted the western field of anthropology. They argue that although beginning with an argument regarding the biased Anglo-American perspective, he writes for a large part on data collection and interpretation in which he points out many errors and discrepancies. Heralding his article as a step in the right direction, James Hirabayashi, Naomi Katz, Samwiri Lwanga-Lunyiigo, Khalil Nakhleh, Maxwell Owusu, Michael Panoff, A.K. Quarcoo, and Aidan W. Southhall praise Chilungu for raising the question of Anglo-American perspective of being biased and at time there interpretation of other cultures negative to the point of being derogatory. All of these commentators in support or against the argument comment on the need for more research regarding perspective and its psychological impact.


Chilungu responds by not only thanking those in support of his argument, but by thanking the journal itself for allowing the article to be published. Addressing specific comments by his peers, Chilungu furthers his argument for a perspective based bias and attempts to re-qualify his observations on the ability to manipulate data and then its interpretation. He concludes by cryptically stating that there is only a problem if one considers there to be one.

KARA OTKE Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Cohen, Erik. Environmental Orientations: A Multidimensional Approach to Social EcologyCurrent Anthropology Mar., 1976 Vol. 17(1):49-70

In this article the author develops a multidimensional framework for conceptualizing the modern, urban landscape by defining a number of environmental orientations and sub-orientations. While other authors have constructed similar frameworks, he believes that they are useful only for the analysis of a limited range of problems. Through the system that he develops however it would be possible to analyze a wide range of problems having to do with social ecology.

There are four environmental orientations and eight sub-orientations that make up Cohen’s framework. The first of the four orientations is the instrumental orientation, which has to do with the environment as a location of resources. Contained within this orientation are the technological and economic sub-orientations. The former refers to the exploitative possibilities that are available to different peoples because of their knowledge while the latter refers to the accessibility of resources. The second orientation is the territorial orientation, which is concerned with the environment as it relates to control. The strategic and political sub-orientations make up this orientation. Strategic sub orientation would be related to the environment, its features, and how these features affect physical control over the territory. Political sub orientation relates to the legitimate and institutionalized control over a territory. Sentimental orientation is the third of Cohen’s four orientations and relates to environment by how people are attached to it. The sub orientations of this are primordial and prestige. Primordial would be the attachment that one feels to a particular location because of a sense of belonging. Prestige would refer to the social value which is placed on a particular place. The final orientation that is discussed is the symbolic orientation which relates to what significance the environment holds, or what it means to an individual or group. One of its sub orientations is the aesthetic which refers to the physical beauty of the environment. The other sub orientation, moral-religious, would be what moral or religious meaning the environment has for an individual or group.

The author refers to the framework described above as a multidimensional approach in that it covers many different dimensions of social ecology. By using this approach we can analyzes three major problems in social ecology: ecological institutionalization, ecological consequences, and ecological transformation. Ecological institutionalization is the conflict between environmental orientations, ecological consequences are associated with the impact of orientations on the ecosystem, and ecological transformation refers to how the dynamics of an ecosystem are changed by the various orientations. COMMENTS Reviews of Cohen’s article were very mixed. While most agree that he had set forth what could be a useful means of exploring social ecology, there are a number of questions regarding how useful his approach would be for looking at complex social situations that would most likely involve all of his orientations. Another issue which was of concern to readers was his support, or lack there of, for his ecological orientations and the conflicts between them. They felt that the orientations may provide a good theoretical framework; however, some of those commenting on his work seemed unconvinced of their validity. REPLY

In defense of his multidimensional approach, Cohen says that it was meant only as a means of pointing out problems inherent in social ecology and serving as a way to redirect study in this area. He points out that in the beginning of his paper he explains that this approach is not theory but rather a starting point for those wishing to examine the relationship between man and his environment. Some anthropologists are looking for a cure-all for social ecology, which Cohen says is not the purpose of this approach. He also says that his orientations cover a wide range of the man-environment relationship and as of yet no one has been able to propose additional orientations for material that lies beyond his approach.

AARON GRAHAM Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Cohen, Erik. Environmental Orientations: A Multidimensional Approach to Social Ecology.Current Anthropology March, 1976 Vol. 17(1):49-70.

Cohen develops a framework for different outlooks and perspectives on the environment, which he entitles “environmental orientations”. By doing so, he hopes to develop a new approach to social ecology as it exists in the 1970’s. He argues that different perspectives of the environment cause “man” to act upon it in different ways. Such a statement may be considered obvious to anthropologists and students of anthropology today, but this statement seems to have been revolutionary and somewhat disputed when made in 1976. Because this statement was not widely accepted, Cohen develops an argument to provide evidence to support his claim.

In order to strengthen his argument, Cohen refers to well known theorists such as Emile Durkheim, who wrote that reality is socially constructed. Cohen extends this theory to the natural environment as well, questioning the tendency of his contemporaries to believe that a specific culture is an adaptation to the environment. Instead, environment is seen as a social construction. Cohen also develops a table (entitled “The Paradigm for Social Ecological Analysis”) to support this claim. This table lists different aspects of society and their relationship to the natural world, such as types of Environmental Organization, Modes of Orientation, and Institutions. Also included in the table are four categories of “Orientation to Environment” which include “Instrumental”, “Territorial”, “Sentimental” and “Symbolic”. Cohen provides great detail for each of these categories in order to clarify the meaning of each. These explanations are clear and direct and therefore allow several readers to interpret the table in a unified manner that disallows confusion.

Cohen’s table involves various aspects of society and the environment, and is therefore a self-proclaimed “multidimensional approach”. According to Cohen, such an approach attacks three major problems that are present in social ecological theory in the 1970’s. These are: 1) the problem of conflict between various environmental orientations, 2) the problem of differential impact of the various orientations on the ecosystem as a whole, and 3) the problem of the differential dynamics of ecosystems dominated by different mixes of orientations.


Most comments responding to this article are positive. For example, Caldwell states that Cohen has identified that there is an absence of a consistent framework within the discipline of social ecology. He also builds upon Cohen’s work, noting that one’s orientation influences the way that different people interact with each other. Hardesty also praises Cohen, observing his ability to pass through traditional boundaries of different disciplines. Tambs-Lyche offers the only blatant opposition to this article, arguing that it is absurd that orientations affect the environment. Such a statement cannot be interpreted as the common “feeling” of social ecologists of the 1970’s however, because the majority of Cohen’s peers agree with him. Aberle disagrees with Cohen to a lesser extent than Tambs-Lyche, as he is not impressed with Cohen’s lack of predictive or post-dictive power.


In response, Cohen addresses both Aberle and Tambs-Lyche. To Aberle, he replies that it was not his intent to make an empirical law or theory. This is a very smart decision because of the diversity and complexity of social ecology. If such a law or theory was developed, there would be numerous societies that would not fit into it. Therefore, it would not be beneficial to the discipline. Cohen illuminates a major misinterpretation in response to Tambs-Lyche. Tambs-Lyche finds it ridiculous that orientations affect the environment. In his response, Cohen states that he has said no such thing. Rather, he argues that orientation causes “man” to act upon the environment in certain ways. This may reflect the hesitancy of professionals in the 1970’s to fully acknowledge the influence that indigenous peoples have had over their traditional lands.

PATRICIA GOOCH Okanagan University College (Diana E French)

Gates, Marilyn. Measuring Peasant Attitudes to Modernization: A Projective Method. Current Anthropology December, 1976 Vol.17(4): 641-665.

The author presents a method, which involves the use of photographic test for attitude measurement (PHOTAM) in peasant societies that are undergoing modernization. Gates applies the technique to a case study of Mexican peasants partaking in an agricultural development project. She believes this method will stimulate a richer and more detailed response than other attitude scales developed in Western societies because peasants lack the exposure to those tests to which our society is accustomed.

The procedure for PHOTAM is organized into ten steps. The first step is to intensively study the language of the area and administer interviews to identify key attitudes associated with the changes occurring in the traditional Maya agricultural system. Then a collection of attitudes that are critical for understanding the study is selected. Gates chose six clusters of attitudes: traditional agriculture, modern agriculture, authority, material and non-material wants and aspirations, and leisure. After that, photographs are taken depicting situations, environments, and cultural details familiar to the Mexican peasants being tested. Each photograph is designed to stimulate one or more of the six attitudes selected. Gates took 200 pictures but only used 21 of them for her study. Then selections of random subjects participating in the agricultural development projects are chosen. The photographs are shuffled and administered in this set order individually to each subject alone with the interviewer. Gates then asked the subject to invent a story about each photograph describing its content and context (who the people are, what they are doing, thinking, saying, and what might happen next). She then translated the responses in English word for word, including laughter, coughs, and swear-words. Gates took the six clusters and expanded then into 17 coding categories to create the attitude coding as clear and exact as possible, she also used a binary decision tree to narrow the responses even more to a specific attitude code. The attitude profiles were interpreted subjectively and objectively. Gates also tested the reliability and validity of her data by having a Latin American anthropologist with extensive field experience with peasants code 10% of her already coded data in order to make sure the results were similar. The last step of PHOTAM is optional and it involves performing cross-cultural testing and comparing the attitude profiles to demonstrate how effective PHOTAM can be in measuring attitudes in any peasant society.

Gates’ results showed that the majority of Mexican peasants welcomed the development and modernization in spite of losing traditional practices. The responses given contained rich information of past traditions, experiences with other modern development projects, and associated aspects of the peasants’ way of life in their culture. Gates believes that the photographs are what make PHOTAM successful because when the peasants recognize familiar situations suspicions towards the anthropologist quickly fade away. She also noticed that the responses turned into first-person narratives, which contain more clearly projected attitudes than imaginative story telling. Gates says that this helps the anthropologist see the peasants’ world through their eyes. Gates also states that PHOTAM breaks the barriers of communication with peasants quicker than other anthropological methods. She also concludes that the ethnographic content of PHOTAM, when analyzed, is comparable to the results by an anthropologist using the participant-observation method in a typical village study; yet PHOTAM collects the data in a shorter period of time.


Many commentators praised Gates for the way she used the technique PHOTAM to obtain data for an ethnographic interpretation of measuring Mexican peasant attitudes towards modernization. One commentator criticized Gates for not using historical research in her work, which would have helped her discover what new situations create new attitudes. Other commentators were disturbed by Gates statement that the results of PHOTAM are the same as the results of participant-observation methods, but that it can be done in a shorter period of time. This statement made the commentators question the efficiency of the PHOTAM. Also, some commentators believed Gates should have applied the PHOTAM test to the people who were modernizing the peasant community in order to retrieve more information to the cause of the attitudes.


Gates replies that the contextual comments given to her will assist her in future studying and clarifying the relevance of PHOTAM to problems in agricultural modernization, which she will do in another paper. She argues for the reason why there many negative replies to PHOTAM being a quicker way of doing ethnography work is due to differences in research priorities. Gates states that PHOTAM will be a little less complete than that of results by the method of participant-observation. However, she strongly believes that PHOTAM is very useful if an urgent attitude survey is needed in regions where anthropological work is scarce. Gates does not believe that it is an absolute priority at this point to measure the attitudes of the people who are responsible for the modernization of the peasant communities; she thinks it is the peasants’ time to speak.

ANGELICA LOPEZ Illinois State University (Gina Bessa de Hunter)

Hartung, John. On Natural Selection and the Inheritance of Wealth. Current Anthropology December, 1976 Vol.17(4):607-622.

The author argues that the transmission of wealth along the male line is more advantageous in evolutionary terms due to the higher reproductive potential of the male and the greater degree of genetic similarity between males. He compares the reproductive variance of males and females to prove males have a higher reproductive potential and correlates the sex-chromosome transmission to the higher degree of similarity. He contends that by transferring wealth solely through the patrilineal line reproductive success of individuals will be maximized due to these two factors.

The author begins by showing that males are capable of producing more offspring during their lifetime than females are because females are required to make a larger investment in offspring than males. He relates this data to the greater proportion of polygynous societies in the world. He then uses an economic model to show transmission of wealth along the male line is more beneficial due to the greater reproductive potential of the male.

The author then discusses the transmission of sex chromosomes. He states that the Y chromosome has a significant behavioral component. He believes that the mechanics of sex chromosome transmission provide an additional benefit to males. This is due to the fact that the Y chromosome is passed intact to related males, the X chromosome is passed intact only when passed by males and is subject to genetic crossover when passed by females, and the source of a gene on the X chromosome is most likely an ancestor on the male line of descent. Due to these mechanics the male is theoretically more closely related to descendents than the female is. The author provides charts to prove this hypothesis.

The author asserts that the potential differential reproductive success of males combined with the mechanics of sex chromosome transmission provide maximum reproductive success and maximal fitness when wealth is inherited through the male line. He says that this is a possible reason for the greater abundance of patrilineal kinship systems and uses statistical facts and mathematical models to prove his point. The author accounts for contradictory cases by saying that some cultures do not have sufficient wealth to be transmitted and some cultures also have sexual habits that make it difficult to discern paternity.


One of the major criticisms of this article is the fact that for most of human history man was a hunter and gatherer where there was very little wealth to be passed on. Therefore, wealth could not be such a significant selective pressure on human evolution. Many commentators also criticize the author for assuming behavioral traits, like patrilineality, are genetically controlled. The author provides little evidence to back up this hypothesis. Many commentators also criticize the author for applying natural selection to the individual. The remainder of the criticism deals with technical matters like the author’s misuse of mathematical formulas. Most of the commentators say further research into this matter is necessary.


The author concedes that he did not explain himself as well as he could have and maintains that natural selection can act at the individual level and have importance at the group level. Then he discusses the future of anthropology. He believes anthropology needs to be put back into an evolutionary context. The author also says that he uses the term wealth to refer to other resources, like knowledge, in addition to material ones. He also says that he does not support this preference for males, he only illustrates it. The author agrees that further research is needed.

LAUREL MCNEILLEY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Hartung, John. On Natural Selection and Inheritance of Wealth. Current Anthropology December, 1976 Vol.17(4):607-622.

Hartung’s article explores natural and cultural selection of wealth inheritance. The tracing of the sex chromosome has revealed that males will be more closely related to their sons, and their sons’ sons, etc., than any other descendant of that same generation. In the case where the wealth had to be passed on to a daughter, the next best descendant that would have the highest probability of carrying and passing the original giver’s X chromosome would be the daughter’s son. Hartung contends that the most beneficial way for a male’s fitness to be passed to his descendents is by passing inheritable wealth to his son, and son’s son, etc. The basic conclusion is that the fitness enhancing potential of the giver’s wealth is capitalized when wealth is diffused along the male line rather than the female line. More precisely, this is achieved by concentrating wealth on descendants with higher relationship coefficients and higher reproductive potential. However, Hartung also accounts for the immediate weakness in his theory, and concludes that in societies where it is difficult to establish the male line, other special relationships may develop to continue the most reproductively beneficial inheritance tactic. In such cases, he proposes that exceptional matrilineal, mother’s brother or sister’s son inheritance patterns develop. Hartung justifies his hypothesis with genetic research and chromosomal ancestry diagrams.

The author also provides explanations for deviances in his hypothesis. For example, some specific cultures employ sexual practices that are not favorable to a high chance of paternity. Hartung suggests that these societies cope by passing wealth from mother to son, and thereby ensuring that wealth is passed from male to male without jeopardizing correct assignment. Probability of maternity is also controlled in some regions through female genital mutilation. By removing the potential of experiencing sexual enjoyment, some cultures believe that women are less likely to engage in extramarital affairs. This helps ensure that male wealth is passed on to children of his female partner that are genetically his descendants. Hartung concludes that it is relevant to understand that patrilineal inheritance is primarily sustained through cultural transition, and that cultural behavior can adapt to change faster than genetically transmitted behavior.


Commentators support Hartung’s conclusion that wealth affects human behavior. However, many are not convinced that natural selection influences the inheritance of wealth, and that wealth transmits from generation to generation by biological units of inheritance, more specifically, the gene. It is argued that wealth passes mainly through the male line of descent because most societies are patriarchal and therefore it is the males who make the laws or decide the norms for wealth inheritance to benefit their own gender. Critics agree that reproductive fitness is enhanced over time through the passing of wealth to one’s offspring, and that reproductive success is greater through the male line than the female. However, Hartung is critiqued for drawing premature conclusions.


Hartung replies by stating that most of the criticisms are based on misunderstandings of his ideas and explanations, rather than on actual divergence of thought. He strongly supports his theory that any trait, whether physical or behavioral, is passed from generation to generation and can be acted upon by natural selection. He acknowledges that the idea of natural selection influencing culturally inherent behaviors is obscure and commonly not conventional. The definition of wealth used in this paper is reiterated because it includes material goods, resources, ability, and status. Hartung feels that his argument loses validity without this specific and complete definition of wealth.

SUSANNE TANJA WENGENMEIER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Honigmann, John J. The Personal Approach in Cultural Anthropological Research. Current Anthropology June, 1976 Vol.17(2):243-261.

A balance is sought between the personal and objective approaches in cultural anthropology. Usefulness of the personal approach depends on the goals of the research and on the specific subfield of anthropology.

The personal approach is a trained investigator’s unique version of reported events and what she or he believes to be true based on the conclusions. The author describes and defends the personal approach and discusses the responsibilities that accompany the method. According to the author the method is individualistic and maintains associations with logic and attempts to avoid contradictions. By combining artistic intuition and reason the argument becomes credible. The approach is most often incorporated in ethnography and ethnology. Ideally, the researcher will have something original and interesting to say based on their training and imagination. The personal approach is nonrepeatable and cannot be taught; it can only be learned through practicing the method.

According to the author the personal approach only works when the investigator is trained and qualified to report and draw conclusions from the specific observations. Also, the investigator must maintain integrity to report what she or he believes to be true based on their training and value judgment. The author believes that the theory brings a personal component to ethnographic methods and is credible without utilizing standardized, objective modes to obtain data.

The author describes instances when objective evidence can be combined with the personal approach to support the conclusion. For example, an ethnographer can employ scientific tests and utilize scales to better understand a culture. Under specific conditions operational definitions and statistics may augment the credibility of inferences. Use of the personal or objective approach depends on the individual anthropologist, the research question, and the subfield she or he operates in. The personal approach is most suited for research that aims at making connections between cultural patterns and interpreting meaning within specific cultures. The method is also equipped to investigate historical narration.


The majority of the comments reflected an overall agreement with the author and found the authors views coherent and understandable. Some asked why is it that a certain author, method, or theory can prove more convincing at a particular moment in time. A question of balance between personal knowledge and objectivity was also raised. The personal approach was criticized by certain commentators for being too extreme in its emphasis on subjectivity and for an increased probability for error in data collection.


The author was curious as to why there were so few disagreements and criticisms. He echoed the question of balance between personal knowledge and objectivity and stated that it is a dilemma especially in relation to the credibility of ethnographic work when certain environments are predominantly compatible with objectification. However, the author states that knowledge produced objectively is, to a degree, also subjective and is dependent on history and reflects values and judgments associated with that period in time. He also counters the claim that the personal approach allows for an increased probability for error in data collection. The author states that error originates when patterns are inconsistent with perceptions.

NATHANIEL HARDWICK Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa).

Honigmann, John J. Personal Approach in Cultural Anthropological Research. Current Anthropology June, 1976 Vol.17(2):243-61.

Honigmann’s aim in writing this article is to describe and defend the use of the personal approach in cultural anthropology. He clarified this notion with several examples; one in particular is how directors use the personal subjective approach when they bring out the message they believe the playwright intended. Honigmann explains at the beginning of this article that what he hopes to clarify for is why it is inaccurate to view the personal and objective approaches as adversaries. The uses his own work with the Inuit and native peoples of Northern Canada to achieve this clarification. By using his own work methods, the author shows in a precise manner that the personal and objective approaches can work in tandem to achieve the goals of research.

This article is divided into sections, which provide a clear understanding that flows into a commonsense description of how to correctly use the personal approach. Section one is the most valuable in backing the author’s belief in encouraging the use of the personal approach in cultural investigations for it gives the premise for which the personal approach should be used. The use of the personal approach rests upon, “… that certain circumstances value lies in the very uniqueness and non-repeatability of a particular investigator’s version of reported events or conclusions drawn from these events” (244).

The author explains the fallacies behind believing that the personal approach rests on assumptions, and therefore should be looked at as incredulous. To Honigmann this notion is untrue, as knowledge that is either attained by the personal approach or standardized methods are unstable and always subject to vacillation due to new data or changing theories. The remaining sections of this paper are devoted to the examination of the uses of the personal approach in writing up and producing the results of research.


The commentators predominantly agreed that Honigmann indeed proves that subjectivity exists in all research procedures. Many of the comments support his view that even when using the quantitative standardized objective approach, personal factors influence each stage of this approach. Criticism is minimal, however, one of the flaws that was detected was Honigmann’s lack of acknowledgment that other approaches to studying anthropological events can be more valuable than the personal approach.


The author express surprise, because the commentators found few flaws, and in the most part generally agreed with his position. He spends time on each of the issues that were highlighted as concerns by the commentators, such as the notion that anthropologists cannot be distinguished from novelists or playwrights if only the personal approach is followed. To Honigmann this notion is inaccurate for anthropologists undertake lengthy professional training, exposure and experience in how use to the traditional methods of ethnography. An important part of the author’s reply is his acknowledgement of three replies in particular, since they provided him with new insights on his paper that, with further undertaking, could expand into new areas in cultural anthropology.

EVA-MARIE C. KOVACS Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Hunt, Robert C. and Hunt, Eva. Canal Irrigation and Local Social Organization. Current Anthropology September 1976. Vol. 17(3):389-411.

The authors’ main argument is the presence of a strong connection between irrigation systems and social organization in Mexico. Throughout their research in Mexico, they examine small villages in order to investigate the power control that is involved when a centralized management system controls water allocation instead of local farmers. What they discovered is when agriculture first became established as a means of subsistence, the local farmers were in charge of their own irrigation and water allocation. As populations grew, so did the complexity of social stratification. There was a shift from agricultural production for food to agricultural production for cash, which led to a need for appointed governmental organizations. These organizations controlled the distribution of water in order to oversee the cash crop production. As a result, local Mexican farmers who still tried to sustain their traditional way of life suffered since higher social organizations favored the profit-making cash crop, thus allocating the water to the cash-crop farmers instead of the traditional farmers. The cash crops were controlled by haciendas owners, known as hacendados. On a local level, the hacendados were able to group together and influence the higher courts in their favor, due to their wealth and power. Their role as water allocators were accepted in the name of money making by higher social organizations. Locally, they monopolized their areas and forced the local peasants who no longer had sufficient means of water into “hacienda peons”.

By examining these cases in Mexico, the authors seek to establish a correlation between social stratification and irrigation systems. In the case studies that they have examined, there is a strong implication that where irrigated agriculture is present there is also a powerful organization ruling over the decisions made about irrigation. It is obvious that there is great structure involved in irrigation agriculture, the authors suggest that it is systematically linked with the social organization of a whole society, when observing power stratification between the local and national level.


The comments on the article were quite mixed. Some scholars thought the points raised in the article were quite interesting and important to the study of irrigation systems. They felt that if the authors would include other disciplines, such as archaeology and history that it would enhance the point that they were trying to make. Others felt that they were simplifying the complex phenomenon of social stratification. Those who were critical of the article felt that the authors should not try to universalize a model for the world’s irrigation systems because of the variety among the different systems. Some scholars also argued that irrigation systems are not always used in the same manner and for the same purpose so they questioned why the authors assumed that the irrigation systems linked with social organization were solely agricultural systems. Why the authors chose water allocation to illustrate the linkage with social organization when there are other, perhaps more important resources, closely related to social organization than water, was also drawn into question.


In response to examining other resources, the authors stood their ground and claimed that they did not want to include points that could not be backed with relevant information. In their opinion, the allocation of water still represents the strongest link to social organization. As for the universal model, they acknowledged that it would be difficult to do, but at the same time it needed to be done in order to be able to compare irrigation systems around the world.

KATIE HALE Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Hunt, Robert C. and Eva Hunt. Canal Irrigation and Local Social Organization. Current Anthropology September, 1976 Vol. 17 (3):389-410.

In this article, canal irrigation is identified as a major source of “intensifying plant food production” and as such is “a resource of unusual social power” (389). The Hunts have suggested that in agricultural societies based on irrigation, the distribution of power and social organization are directly linked to a hierarchy within the production system. They indicate that there are three fundamental issues to explore based on this assumption, including: “ (1) the local organization of the tasks pursuant to irrigation, (2) the linkages between the local level and higher levels of the system, and (3) the relationship between roles in the irrigation system and other roles in the local social organization” (390). The issue of water shortages dominates the article. Arguably, the allocation of water can be seen as a source of power because it reflects who maintains control within these societies and who will be affected by the decisions made.

The Hunts recognize several major concerns within the irrigation system that are dealt with accordingly by different groups with varying levels. In the first section of the article, Local Organization of Tasks, they identify needs to be accomplished in order to maintain a successful crop and who in society dictates the decisions being made in these domains. Considering principles developed by Glick and Levi-Strauss, they determine that more frequent dilemmas, including allocation of water resources, maintenance of fields, and minor conflict resolution, are more likely to be handled by local authorities. While the less frequent ones, such as construction, repairs, and major conflict resolution, are coincidentally controlled by exterior power figures (391).

The second section of the article, Linkages, focuses on the presence or lack of centralization within irrigation societies, and the relationship between the local and foreign authorities. A lengthy analysis is included in this section to reiterate exactly who maintains control over particular aspects of the irrigation system, and how local groups are subordinate to exterior ones (394-396). A comparison of interpretations made by Wittfogel, Kappel, and Millon suggests that community studies are largely insufficient when analyzing social organization through irrigational systems as they are always connected to larger bodies.

Finally, Role Embeddedness, the last section consists of a discussion surrounding social stratification. Here it is argues that “where there is irrigated agriculture there is social stratification and that the stratification is importantly linked to differential

decision-making power over the tasks of the irrigational system” (396). It is suggested by the Hunts that more research in this area is needed in order to fully appreciate the significance of roles in irrigational societies, as there is no documentation over long periods of time in any of these societies that pertains to the change in leadership and how it is reflected in the irrigation system (397).


The comments related to this article are mainly positive in nature, as critics have recognized the valuable information that the Hunts have extracted in their analysis of irrigated agricultural systems. The majority of commentators articulate the importance of the Hunts suggestions for further research on the subject in order to develop a clear perspective of the issues at hand. It is clear, well written, and precise in nature and as such deserves such recognition. Perhaps the only need for improvement in the article is to reduce the amount of repetitiveness in some areas, as points have been reiterated.


In the Hunts’ reply, as in their peers’ comments, they specifically address the importance of three main points: “Comparative-Study Design, Results, and Future Field Research” (405). Each one is again clearly dealt with, and strong points of the article are once more recognized.

STACEY SCHILLER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Hutterer, Karl L. An Evolutionary Approach to the Southeast Asian Culture Sequence.Current Anthropology, June 1976. Vol. 17(2): 221-242.

The author explains that previous “archaeological frameworks” for Southeast Asian cultural development have been shown to be inaccurate in light of new archaeological data. Further, traditional frameworks, for figuring out the chronologies for cultural development in a particular region do not work well in South Asia. This is due to a “lack of uniformity of cultural development… the apparent impossibility of identifying regional traditions and local sub traditions within a generally valid chronological framework.” This is a result of the tropical nature of the region, which does not favor “large scale development of cultural systems” instead allowing for “development of specialized systems on a limited, local scale” at the “price of partial socioeconomic dependence on other groups.” The cause of this is the distribution of resources such as meat, which is scarce. The ultimate result of this is a promotion and maintenance of a “high degree of diversity among cultures of tropical areas.” For these reasons, a traditional, European prehistoric chronological framework cannot be applied.

Hutterer goes on to explain that because of this a proper framework for Southeast Asian prehistory will exhibit the following characteristics. Geographical discontinuity, two small adjacent areas may not match and an increase in the variety of sites and cultural traditions over time. Over time cultural-ecological specialization will tend to increase and there will be a tendency “towards increased interaction and interdependence between diverse groups” in any regional sequence.


In general the commentators agreed that Hutterer is mostly right in his attempt to reevaluate traditional conceptions about Southeast Asia. However, a number of the commentators claim that Hutterer is guilty of some over generalization about tropical ecology and cultural development. They point to examples of abundant meat and cultural homogeneity in certain parts of the area. One commentator, Bennet Bronson suggests that Hutterer confine his arguments to insular Southeast Asia. M. A. Chlenov points out believes that in taking a purely ecological approach Hutterer has oversimplified the culture process. Other’s go on to claim that comparative cultural diversity can be found in other environments. There is a consensus that a reevaluation is necessary but Hutterer’s evaluation is incomplete.


Hutterer appreciates some of the clarification done by some of the commentators on parts of his paper, which in retrospect may have been misleading. He goes on to say that he is interested in the effects of ecological diversity on the human condition. Further he explains that some of the commentators where attaching meaning to his comments that he hadn’t intended, for example he didn’t intend to imply that there was not great cultural diversity in certain temperate climates as well, just that tropical environments in general will show the most diversity. He then defends the correlation between ecological, and technological diversity, saying that there is good reason to believe that greater ecological diversity results in greater technological diversity.

GARTH HELMS Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Jarvie, I.C. On the Limits of Symbolic Interpretation in Anthropology. Current Anthropology December, 1976 Vol. 17(4):687-701.

The author’s purpose is to offer “some skeptical arguments against “symbolic” interpretations of human action.” (687) His main concern with this approach is that it “adds unfruitful complication to anthropology, is fundamentally arbitrary, and is morally dubious.” (687) He contests the “distinction between practical or instrumental (or rational or observable) purpose and symbolic or communicative purpose.” (687) He opts to take on “a single, in some ways representative piece,” which constitutes “an exemplar of the whole symbolic-interpretation approach.” (687)

E.R. Leach argued in “Golden bough or gilded twig” (1961) “that reports of primitive peoples who did not know the connection between coition and pregnancy were not to be trusted.” He expanded on this concept, comparing it to the Christian doctrine of virgin birth, in his 1966 Henry Myers Lecture. According to Jarvie, Leach invokes the distinction between the everyday world and metaphysics “to rescue palpable falsehoods from ridicule.” (688) This allows the anthropologist to seriously consider what would be dismissed in a different context. The author claims that, “For Leach and, I suspect, for others of the symbolic-interpretationist persuasion, “there are different kinds of truth.”” (688)

The author offers two transcendental arguments against the symbolic approach. The first is that there are quite a few different symbol systems and that they are incompatible. This he concludes “possibly signals arbitrariness.” (689) The second is that by seeking a symbolic interpretation, we are presupposing “that a determinate meaning exists.” But, since we have no account of how the meaning got there, “we are forced to withdraw the supposition that a determinate meaning does indeed exist.” (689) It is a principle of intellectual economy that Jarvie claims to be invoking.


Most commentators took exception to Jarvie’s conflation of all symbolic-interpretation approaches into one and then making “sweeping” generalizations and “distressing misrepresentations.” (Drummond, 694) Aronoff faults him “for focusing on Leach’s essay as if it were somehow representative of a nonexistent single approach.” (693) He uses the examples of irony, sarcasm, and rituals to show that cognition is multivocal and multileveled. He and others stress the use of different levels of meaning and analysis, not “different kinds of truth.” Hanson points out that the varied systems of symbolic interpretation “do not all ask the same questions,” and thus are not necessarily incompatible. (695) He and Aronoff both stress that we do have accounts of “how the hidden meanings got there.” (695) Leach declares “I hold hardly any of the opinions which Jarvie credits to me in the course of his argument.” (697)


The author responds that he “wanted to raise the fundamental question “When should an anthropologist resort to symbolic readings of human acts and words?”” (700) His answer is to “go to symbolism only when intentional, instrumental, or functional readings are inadequate for the purpose at hand.” (700) Jarvie explicitly gives us two reasons why restraint is in order: (1) There is an immense number of such symbolic systems and they are untestable; and (2) that the assumption that there are hidden messages in what people say and do is contentious. He says that the other, implicit, reason is that doing symbolic analysis is “just too easy.” (700) We should start with, and generally stick with, literal analysis because it is far better to begin with what is testable. Jarvie claims to agree that there are certain kinds of questions for which symbolic interpretation is called for; such as those Burridge asks in New heaven, new earth (1969). “My paper called for limits to symbolic interpretation, not its abandonment.” (700)

MARK LINDNER Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Jarvie, I.C. On the Limits of Symbolic Interpretation. Current Anthropology December, 1976 Vol.17(4):687-701.

In this article, Jarvie offers an argument against analyzing symbolism in relation to human actions. His statements are directed towards a single piece of literature in an attempt to avoid a transcendental argument. His chosen adversary is E.R. Leach’s 1967 article Virgin Birth. In his essay, Leach argues that virgin births must be viewed in a symbolic context rather than as factual events. This approach to rationalizing the belief of the Immaculate Conception reduces the potential for negatively viewing the culture. This negative form of viewing a society as primitive or lacking knowledge of biological functioning in the case of the virgin birth assumption degrades belief systems that are symbolically different.

Opposed to this view, Jarvie believes that by using symbolic interpretation individuals are attempting to qualify information and actions by categorizing them as either physical or metaphysical based on their culture rather than learn what it is the people believe and why they believe what they do. Do they see significant meaning within the action is what Jarvie is suggesting the question should be. By means of offering hints through out this article Jarvie attempts to support his view by arguing that interpreting the symbolism of human actions insinuates that the action has deeper meaning. The author believes that the perceived symbolism of human actions lead to further confusion rather than clarity.


The commentaries relating to this article suggest the presentation of the argument is both difficult to follow and narrow. Focusing on only a single article as a base for this debate has greatly reduced the validity of the presented information. In the author’s effort to avoid creating a transcendental argument, he has in fact done just that.


Jarvie replies to the comments by arguing that an author has the right to write a paper that he believes in and not what others think he should write. The author believes that those reading his paper should not assume that he has stated anything more that asking a specific question “when should an anthropologist resort to symbolic readings of human acts and words”. It is in response to this specific question that his paper was written and not to refute of the use of symbolic interpretation.

CHRISTINA BAZELL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Kerri, James Nwannukwu. Studying Voluntary Associations as Adaptive Mechanisms: A Review of Anthropological Perspectives. Current Anthropology March, 1976. Vol. 17(1): 21-47.

Kerri’s purpose in writing this article is to make an analysis of previous studies done on the subject of voluntary association. In doing this, he attempts to explain how voluntary association may be viewed as an adaptive mechanism in changing social, cultural, ecological and technological situations. Kerri bases his analysis on his understanding that voluntary associations are more “pliable” than kinship relations. Individuals joined by voluntary association share a common interest, while membership to a kin group is determined by birth and marriage, and such common interest is not necessary. Therefore, the very nature of voluntary associations as a social grouping is much more flexible than kinship relations.

In order to make his analysis, Kerri gives a definition of voluntary association. He states that “any private group voluntarily and more or less fundamentally organized, joined and maintained by members pursuing a common interest, usually by means of part-time, unpaid activities” (Anderson, 1964:175-76). Still, the author admits that membership of a voluntary association, or obligations to one, are not necessarily voluntary. However, there may be instances in which certain duties are necessary for membership while any actual participation is not required. He gives the example of students who are forced to pay general fees, but are not required to participate in the activities they fund. The remainder of Kerri’s work is devoted to making a cross-cultural illustration of existing voluntary associations. He discusses past studies done in Africa, Asia and Western Europe-North America (as one category). A special emphasis is put on the usefulness of voluntary association’s ability to aid individuals in adjusting from rural to urban life.

Kerri ends his article with a discussion of rotating-credit associations. He presents Geertz’s conception of the basic principle of rotating associations as being “a lump sum composed of fixed contribution from each member of the association is distributed, at fixed intervals and as a whole, to each member of the association in turn”. Geertz also suggests that these associations are a “middle rung” of a process of development, lying between an agrarian and capitalist societal system. Kerri concludes, noting the topics he discusses should not be considered comprehensive, because there is a lot of room for other interpretations from other fields of study.


About half of the commentators were impressed by Kerri’s work, finding it to be a detailed cross-cultural analysis of voluntary association. Still, several commentators believed that Kerri ignored certain areas such as Latin America and South Asia. Many regarded this omission as a major blow to the integrity of Kerri’s work. A few commentators also found that his analysis was too generalized, and ignored the diversity of meanings that may exist among cultures. D. Douglas Caulkins even accused Kerri of merely cataloging the adaptive functions of voluntary associations.


Kerri asserts that he covered his material in “sufficient detail” and did not ignore or omit information pertinent to his study. Instead, he finds that the commentators who criticized him on this point to be limited by having awareness of only their own work. Kerri explains that the study of voluntary associations does not have value for all human societies. He states that undertaking a study of such global scope will naturally create these kinds of problems.

BROOKE BARBER Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa).

Kerri, James Nwannukwu. Studying Voluntary Associations as Adaptive Mechanisms. A Review of Anthropological Perspectives. Current Anthropology March, 1976 Vol.17(1):23-45.

The general purpose of the article is to illustrate how voluntary associations have been studied as adaptive mechanisms to social, cultural, ecological and technological change, particularly urbanization and associated migration (23). Specific attention is given to Rotating Credit Associations. This is achieved through a painstaking review and discussion of pertinent literature, published since the 1940’s. The central argument is reiterated that voluntary associations are a means of coping with, or bringing about change. Kerri begins by defining the pertinent term of voluntary association, contrasting it with kinship and territory groups, asserting that voluntary associations link members by common interest, over any other factor. He continues by contrasting voluntary associations with common interest associations.

The author then begins his exhaustive review of literature, first discussing those works that impact the general and theoretical features of voluntary associations. He follows with a geographic review, focusing on work in Africa, Asia, Western Europe and North America. Each area is detailed separately, with the exception of Western Europe and North America. These are combined, resulting from an apparent lack of anthropological research on anything excluding immigrants and Aboriginals. Sociologists, historians and other non-anthropological scientists completed much of the early research in this area. As a result, Drucker’s ethnography of the Northwest Coast is the primary data on North America.

Finally, Kerri tackles a topic of his own interest, rotating credit associations. He provides several examples in an attempt to explain both their relevance and purpose as a voluntary association. He asserts that these associations are adaptive, and may co-exist, or exist in the absence of formal credit institutions.

In his conclusion, the author reiterates that his purpose in this article is to provide an overview of the available literature and assess it in terms of focus and contribution, as well as strengths and weaknesses. He also suggests that his personal biases may be evident in this process. His final summation includes the suggestion to adopt a new approach when dealing with voluntary association research, one that is problem-oriented, with the ability to demonstrate the relationship between various factors. His criticism of the existing literature is that it fails to explain how factors interact and lead to the creation of voluntary associations.


Critics of Kerri’s article argue that the author failed to include much of the relevant data. Specifically, comments are made regarding his primary use of English documentation, as well as his apparently limited understanding of certain cultural implications, including those in India. He is accused of making limp generalizations and being too selective in his analysis to create a useful overview. This is reiterated once again through criticism of his geographic divisions, as well as the exclusion of particular studies. In addition, Kerri is criticized for his analysis of organization and structure. He fails to include or develop specific criteria for voluntary associations that could be applied across the broad spectrum of research. This is clearly illustrated by the comments that Kerri discusses voluntary associations which do not conform to his own definition.


In response, Kerri first defends his review of primarily English literature, based on the fact that it was available, and tended to focus more on the specific construct he was pursuing, rather than complete ethnographic information, which would not provide specific theory. Further, he admits that as a result, his treatment of some areas including India may be deficient. He also reiterates his preference for particular studies and geographic divisions, as well as his definitions of both voluntary associations and common interest groups. Finally, Kerri thanks the critics for the learning experience.

AMBER OTKE-ROPOTAR Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Magnarella, Paul J. and Orhan Turkdogan. The Development of Turkish Social Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1976 Vol.17 (2): 263-274.

The primary objective of this article is to provide an overview of Turkish social anthropology through historical and contemporary context. The authors lay out a criterion of incorporating only Turkish anthropologists focused on Turkish anthropology, and excluding social anthropological work in Turkey by foreign scholars.

The authors begin with the late 18th century and early 19th century as the foundations of social anthropology in Turkey. These beginnings of study were a response to social, economic, and political problems at the time. Great influence from the West, especially France, also created the environment for this new intellectual development. Some major contributors of this time were Frederic Le Play who made major theoretical and methodological contributions to Turkish social anthropology, and Ziya Gokalp who followed Durkheim’s models for studying Turkish social and cultural problems and also developed definitions of culture and civilization for Turkey.

Turkish nationalism led to the second phase in anthropological history. The 1920’s and 1930’s produced the first professional Turkish anthropologist, Sevket Aziz Kansu. In the 1940’s through the 1960’s, five major contributors conducted significant Turkish anthropological research. 1) Niyazi Berkes studied Turkish population sociology 2) Behice Boran worked on comparing social structure and ecology in the mountains in Turkey 3) Ibrahim Yasa conducted long term social, cultural in economic studies in a Turkish village 4) Nermin Erdentug contributed the first in depth ethnographies of rural Turkey and 5) Mumtaz Turhan incorporated psychological anthropology into Turkish social science.

The 1970’s activity greatly increased in social anthropological studies. The authors focused on the works that included: greater uses of quantitative techniques, greater application of social science studies to social problems, research in social science in urban areas, development of anthropology outside of major cultural centers, renewed interest in Turkish folklore, and increased activity by government to work on social problems.

The authors also mention the establishment in 1935 of the Anthropology Institute of Ankara University and the contributions the facility has made in the field. They go on to discuss the faculty involved and their areas of study as well as various curricular opportunities.

Finally the authors discussed the hopes and the future for social anthropological research in Turkey. They remark on the problem of lack of agreement on social science vocabulary and literature among professionals. They also criticize the social survey methods used in researching Turkish culture and absence of in-depth ethnographic research.


The overall comments made about the article are positive especially in regards to the biographical information that it provided. There is some mention of other major Turkish contributors that should have been included in the work. Nermin Erdentug clarified her role in Turkish anthropology in the comments. One commentator criticized the lack of information regarding the context surrounding the major influences/people involved in Turkish social anthropology. They also cite the lack of anthropological work in politics, religion, ritual, and symbolism in Turkey, as well as a criticizing a lack of a sound anthropological approach to the information studied in the article.


Magnarella responds to the critiques by thanking the commentators for the information they provided that he had missed in his research. He goes on to mention other people that he has also found relevant after the fact. He argues that the criticisms of the lack of context surrounding important contributors are unfounded for the purpose of his article but would be relevant for an article with a different focus. As for the lack of anthropological research in areas of politics, religion, ritual, and symbolism, he provides numerous accounts where this information can be found.

JULIE HUDSON Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Magnarella, Paul J. and Turkdogan, Orhan. The Development of Turkish Social Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1976 Vol.17 (2):263-270.

This article deals with the development of social anthropology in Turkey from the late eighteenth century up until the year 1973. It examines the aspects of key people in each stage of social development and their individual contributions to this field of study. The authors state that the development in Turkish social anthropology was triggered by the interest of the Ottoman intellectuals, mostly sociologists, who were debating the possible reason for the decline of the empire and ways to alleviate the causes of this decline. The authors conclude the reasons for the decline are due to the social, economic, military and political problems occurring in the late Ottoman period and the early Turkish Republican Period. A partial solution to these problems was the establishment of new military schools designed according to modern European models and ideas. Subjects taught in the military schools included; mathematics, physical science and medicine, all were taught for the purpose of aiding the “new” Ottoman Army. The Ottoman government was systematically reorganized based upon the British political system.

The authors include the opposing opinions of people against allowing European influences to change the Turkish social system. The points raised by the authors regarding the understanding of the movements that occurred in Turkish social anthropology are further supported by facts and arguments throughout this article.

LORISSA ZOOBKOFF Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

McGhee, Robert. Differential Artistic Productivity in the Eskimo Cultural Tradition. Current Anthropology, June 1976 Vol. 17(2):203-220.

The author proposes that the study of art in the Eskimo culture show what past ethnographic studies on art have failed to show, namely the dynamic qualities of the artifacts themselves and also the cultures that produced them. There are few studies on the art that has been produced by small prehistoric populations; this has been avoided because of the lack of evidence in the archaeological record. For that reason, McGhee focuses on Eskimo populations from 4,000 years ago, where there were more favorable preservation conditions. Throughout his article he addresses one particular study, by Wolfe, who argued that art productivity in a certain African tribe is highly correlated with sedentary living conditions. Although McGhee finds this to be too simplistic of a reason for art productivity, he does agree with the question Wolfe addresses, which is, figuring out why some societies produce more and better art than others. The author focuses on this issue, as well as, the reason different kinds of art are produced in certain historical periods. McGhee’s criterion for evaluating this task is based on: the skill of workmanship, the degree of innovation, amount of decorative ornaments, and whether or not there are symbolic or religious connotations. In his study he analyzes the archaeological records of the; Arctic Small Tool Tradition, the Dorset, Norton, Ipiutak, Okvik, Punuk, Birnirk and Thule cultures. He compares the type of settlement patterns and complexity of each one to what he considers the subjective categories of an art rating system. He found variability within all of the studied cultures, which contained insignificant correlation between sedentary living patterns and the types of tools/art produced. Cultures that rated high on the artistic scale in one category were found to be deficient in other categories. For example, the people of the Small Arctic Tradition produced fine-grained, precision made tools, but had no signs of ornamental decoration. The Okvik culture’s chipped tool production became cruder, but they produced beautiful ivory carvings with symbolic inferences. Looking at the various Eskimo culture traditions, McGhee found too much inconsistency to make comparisons between them. The highest correlation he found were between cultures with advanced art making and the close proximity to each other, but even this data was not substantial enough to explain variation of art in the archaeological record. He therefore concluded that there are multiple variables to account for the reason that some cultures produce better art than others do.


Some of the commentators thought that McGhee over generalized, by not distinguishing between enough types of settlement patterns, he either used sedentary or seasonal, and also by using the Okvik culture as a collective term, combining this with the Old Bering Sea. A few of the critics feel that even the archaeological record for the Nordic population is too scarce to attempt such a study. They think that McGhee’s study does not arrive at any real conclusions, but is merely a discussion on the Eskimo art topic. Bandi, points out that the author did not look at foreign influences as a factor, and says that there are similarities between Siberian and Chinese art and Nordic art. Besides the slight criticisms, the commentators generally agree that the artistic development is a result of several factors, and pinpointing only one influencing aspect would be too simplistic.


McGhee does not believe that the lack of archaeological data detracts from his study, and thinks that in the future his results will be confirmed, as more information is available. He suggests that there have not been adequate surveys of settlement patterns or population size to give a more exact typology. McGhee does not see there being an undecipherable reason art is produced as a negative thing. He feels that the discipline of anthropology is about appreciating uniqueness and cultural variation. He replies that the relationship between Siberian, Chinese and Nordic art has similarities but is tenuous, although he notes it’s importance to the influence on artistic style, he doubts it would have much to do with the causes for artistic productivity.

KRISTA MCKEAN Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa).

Mounin, Georges. Language, Communication, Chimpanzees. Current Anthropology March, 1976. Vol. 17(1):1-21.

Repeated experiments with chimpanzees have attempted to determine whether or not apes possess the ability for language. Mounin examines the different experiments performed with Washoe and Sarah, analyzing their results in regards to the language problem. In 1966 Ann and David Premack began experiments with a chimpanzee named Sarah. Their method was not sign language but rather a writing system utilizing plastic plates. Allen and Beatrice Gardner began experiments with Washoe in 1967. They tried to teach Washoe American Sign Language, believing that it would correspond with the ape’s natural gesticulatory behavior. The results were different for both apes. Washoe was able to learn over one hundred signs, and produce them in a series of short fragmentary sentences. She was also able to place items into categories, use signs without prompts from the experimenters, and attempt communication with other chimpanzees. Sarah was able to learn a slightly larger amount of words than Washoe, and also learned to differentiate between nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctives, and quantifiers.

The experiments with Washoe and Sarah were analyzed by linguists and semiologists in terms of both Hockett’s and Chomsky’s views on the characteristics that constitute language. Chomsky’s view concentrated on syntax, while Hockett listed sixteen features that were thought to be language universals. Some of these include interchangeability of transmitter and receiver, duality of patterning, and possibility of untrue utterances. Washoe was not seen to possess language because she did not express syntax; neither did she show double articulation with ASL (American Sign Language) nor display prevarication. Sarah did not show syntax, double articulation nor rapid fading. However, Mounin asserts that these tenets of language can be problematic, and therefore should not necessarily be used to prove that an ape does not possess language. An example is the verb to be; the Premacks worked tirelessly to teach Sarah this concept. It is surprising that this was emphasized as a “universal” of language because it is not; it is completely absent in Latin, Russian, and Arabic.

What Mounin suggests is that perhaps researchers should be more concerned with a different question. They should not try to answer the question “Do apes have language?” Rather, they should concern themselves more with the question “Do apes have communication? If so, what type?” This would lead research down a new path, with more emphasis on wild chimpanzees and what kind of communication they possess. These results could be used to more thoroughly explore the nature of communication and the abilities between chimpanzees in different settings.


Most of the commentators highly praised Mounin’s paper for its important contribution to this field of study and for calling into question the language universals of Chomsky and Hockett. Others, however, criticized his lack of attention to such things as evidence of chimps using ASL to sign to each other and to deceive, as well as the omission of Rumbaugh’s research. (Rumbaugh’s experiments with chimpanzees presented evidence for chimps being the initiators in communicating.) Some commentators also would have liked to see some details of field reports detailing communication among wild chimpanzees rather than a passing mention. One commentator criticized Mounin’s explanation as to why Washoe was never a transmitter (Mounin asserted that in the wild there is no emphasis placed on high levels of communication), offering the new explanation of Washoe being aware of her “inferior status” to her experimenter.


Mounin defends his omission of Rumbaugh’s works, saying that he has not done a complete semiological study on those results yet. He also did not include any references to work done in the field by such people as Jane Goodall because he asserts that the system of communication detailed in wild chimpanzees has not been sufficiently described yet and might never be sufficiently described. Mounin’s defense of his explanation of Washoe’s lack of transmission is not that Washoe felt “inferior” but that she was in a position where she associated receiving with rewards.

VALERIE DAMASKY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Mukherjee, Ramkrishna. The Value-Base of Social Anthropology: The Context of India in Particular. Current Anthropology March, 1976 Vol. 17(1):71-95.

The article presupposes that the role of social anthropology has progressed beyond the task of simple description or the explanation of a given phenomenon, toward a wider understanding of trends in society in the modern nation-state. Proceeding sequentially through answering the three questions of “What is it?”, “How is it?”, and “Why is it?”, the author demonstrates how social anthropology is in a position to answer what is termed the fourth fundamental question within scientific discipline, “What will it be?” He explores the concept of value-base and value-load, or the bias and point-of-view the researcher brings to analysis, and how these values can be recognized and compensated for. Mukherjee advocates the use of an inductive-inferential orientation instead of the deductive-positivistic approach typical of much social research. Examples from his studies in India and Uganda are used to illustrate how the social sciences have been utilized in the past.

As an example of deductive or positivist analysis, the author explores the history of the “village study” in India, the peasant movement, and the entities of dominant caste, tribe, class, and power in Indian society. The impact of social alienation or the future of entrepreneurial progress in rural India has not been recognized by most social scientists because these concepts are outside the framework of the usual deductive, caste-based valued-load. Muhkerjee explains that the value load may or may not be explicitly stated. It may be concealed to create a semblance of value-free thinking, “but nonetheless, the ideologies of social anthropologists can sharply distort the appraisal of reality.” The advantage of the author’s inductive approach is offered in his exploration of the social turmoil following colonial rule in Uganda. The mass exodus of the Asian population from East Africa could have been anticipated by anthropologists studying the situation using an inferential orientation.

Muhkerjee focuses on the idea of a value-base with-in the social sciences which creates a political bias in research. He offers that “in virtually all world societies, the social sciences have become or are becoming the handmaiden of politics.” The recognition of the value-base and the establishment of an objective value-base are seen as an important problem for anthropologists. The author argues that the ideology ought to be “value-accommodating” instead of “value-accepting” or even “value-neutral.” The problem is not resolved, according to the author, by a “mere statement of our value-loads…how can we impartially and objectively treat the differential value-loads for an even more precise, comprehensive, and unequivocal appraisal of social reality?”

Three ways to negate value load are analyzed. The qualitative synoptic approach is based on broadly generalized principles of equality, freedom, and social justice. The quantitative synoptic approach uses statistics and measurements of income, wealth and education, among other things, to compare groups. The author points out that data may be lacking to make these sorts of comparisons for many peoples. An enforced value load appears to be a dogmatic application of one world-view as a measure for all others, while the operational approach is designed to compare like societies, so that values such as development might be seemingly uniform, and therefore value-free.


All the reviewers found much of value, but several did refer to what they felt were some contradictions in Mukherjee’s “value-load” that he could have explored further. In essence, his stated goal of employing anthropology for the good of society toward reaching “peace, prosperity and progress” becomes in itself a dogma or value-load which should be analyzed further, according to Gizycki. Gouch is not optimistic about the predictive quality Mukherjee sees as the fourth scientific aspect of anthropology. The difficulty of this “what will be?” question raised by the author also concerned Saberwal, who rephrases the question into “What should we make it be?”


Mukherjee quantitatively analyzed the comments, creating a table in order to group the concerns raised. The author grouped the respondents into Western scholars, Third World scholars, and Socialist scholars, and then draws from this breakdown the conclusion that Third World scholars are most in agreement with his premise. Mukherjee responds to Western commentators such as Gizycki, Gouch, and Saberwal as a group by developing additional inductive-inferential arguments. The author responds that the inductive approach is not exclusive of the deductive, but instead the there can be a complimentary interaction between the two methods. He concludes with the clarification that the question before the scientist is not whether he is “value-free,” but how he can best operate to reduce the role of his values in trying to appraise reality objectively.

PHILIP KARNS Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Mukherjee, Ramkrishna. The Value-Base of Social Anthropology: The Context of India in Particular. Current Anthropology March, 1976 Vol. 17 (1):71-95.

Mukherjee’s article addresses his concern regarding the theoretical and methodological approach utilized by social anthropologists. Specifically, his thesis is supported by the analysis of India and Uganda, and finds that the ‘value-neutral’ and ‘value-accepting’ concepts are problematic when exploring social reality. He claims that the current approach to ‘value’ will subsequently lead to a ‘deductive-positivistic orientation’. The thesis identifies the need for social anthropologists to adopt a more inductive-inferential orientation in their ideological approach, thereby revealing a more accurate image of social dynamics. Mukherjee suggests that the role of social anthropology should not focus solely on the description and explanation of phenomena.

The author analyzes and questions the data complied in the Anthropological Survey of India. He claims the collected data is poorly categorized due to the Western ethnocentric belief that the caste system represents ‘backwardness’. The author, a research professor of Sociology at the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta asks the question: “to what extent have we succeeded in understanding what is happening in Indian society?” (71).

He supports the thesis by considering India and Uganda, two societies that are culturally and geographically distinct. His examination of entrepreneurial success and failure, nutritional variation, and poverty are indicative of culture-specific development, both in intra and inter- societal contexts. The author uses the example of entrepreneurship in rural India to indicate how reality can be misrepresented as a result of deductive reasoning. He concludes that no form of quantification and analysis will make the concept of social development value-free.


The article received commendation and approval. Xavier Albo claims Mukherjee’s work should be thought of as ‘urgent anthropology’. Similarly, Xto. G. Okojie comments on the brilliance of the writing. Other positive critiques agree on the extreme importance of this research, while warning against a complete abandonment of deductive theories. Some critical responses point out potential flaws. For example, Michael Pandoff claims that there exists the inevitability of value judgment being integrated into social anthropology, and points out that Mukherjee fails to reflect on his own involvement in the social reality he attempts to analyze. However, even the strongest critics concede that Mukerjee’s paper merits praise.


Mukherjee acknowledges the criticisms of his paper but restates that his thesis embodies solid analysis of village studies and peasant movements. The author believes that it is necessary to critically assess the concepts and theories developed within the specific context of western tradition; ultimately revealing ethnocentric or Eurocentric character. He substantiates that most, if not all of his paper’s criticisms originate from western academics.

JAY JOHNSON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Mundkur, Balaji. The Cult of the Serpent in the Americas: Its Asian Background. Current Anthropology, September 1976. Vol. 17(3): 429-455.

Bajaji Mundkur focuses on the origin of serpent cults in Mesoamerica and the Old World and how these cults came into existence in Mesoamerica. Archaeological finds suggest that serpent cults make a strong tie between the Americas and Northeast Asia. The author focuses on particular geographic locations, Mesoamerica and the Old World civilizations, primarily those of Siberia.

The author provides great detail about the serpent cults and the differences in ideas between the groups about the serpent. He explains that the fascination of the serpent came from the fear of this animal. His research on the existence of such cults is shown in documentations of extinct cultures as well as cultures that are still around today. The author also argues that this worship of serpents is embedded throughout social evolution. He believes that these ideas about the serpent changed over time, just as religion was diversifying. The author argues that climates and the biological environment affected these changing ideas of the serpent.

Mundkur also discusses the differences in the ideas of the serpent between Indian and Mesoamerican societies. He points out the different relations that societies have with the climate in conjunction with the serpent. The author also talks about the way the serpent is presented differently in the astronomical calendar in the different societies.

The author discusses a number of possibilities as to how these serpent cults came to exist in the Western Hemisphere. One possibility is that this idea of “cult animals” was an ancient worldwide pattern. Another possibility could be that the Northeast Asian immigrants could have created it and passed it on as long as 45,000 years ago. Mundkur also includes an explanation by researchers on how serpent cults were introduced in Mesoamerica, which is the theory of diffusionism.

The author describes the idea of diffusionism, stating that Mesoamerican and Old World groups were thought to have had contact overseas. Diffusionists also argue that archaeological evidence in Mesoamerica has similar ties to religious art in India and Southeast Asia. Mundkur refutes this idea of diffusionism between Mesoamerican and Old World groups, by using data from genetics to show that the groups from Mesoamerica and the Old World do not share the same blood group. The author refuses the diffusionists’ idea as a possibility for the introduction of serpent cults in the Western Hemisphere. However, he still holds the other two explanations as strong possibilities.


An overwhelming majority of the commentators find Mundkur’s article to be lacking important information. Most of them feel his ideas presented in the article are naïve and there was no archaeological evidence to support his argument. Some of them believe Mundkur has been misinformed about history, while others felt his own research did not support his assumptions. One commentator, Ake Hultkrantz, points out that Mukdkur included inaccurate information in his article about the oldest aborigines in North America. Another commentator, Harold McGee, Jr., thought Mundkur had “sloppy methods”. Overall, the commentators feel his research is inefficient and does not support his claims.


Mundkur touches specifically on many of the criticisms of the commentators. He suggests to McGee, the commentator who said Mundkur had “sloppy methods,” might not have carefully read the article and could not comprehend his overall ideas. The author also talks about the error in the time period that these serpent cults began. He indicates that the time period was collected from another researcher’s work, and adds the idea that it may be impossible to uncover the exact time period these cults began. The author thanks commentator Ake Hultkrantz for indicating the oldest aboriginal stocks in North America are not the Northwest Coast tribes. Lastly, Mundkur states that the commentators may not be familiar with the information he put forth, making it a struggle for them to analyze his work.

KRISTEN KNAPP Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Prattis, J.I. Situational Logic, Social Structure, and Highland Burma. Current Anthropology March,1976 Vol.17(1):97-105.

The author looks at the concept of situational logic and equilibrium analysis in order to bridge the gap between micro and macro analysis and to understand how a social system operates. He defines situational logic as, “the actor’s position within any given social structure in terms of his access to and control over resources” (97). Equilibrium analysis sees the system as made up of relations and conditions and therefore showing that all systems have limits. He then looks at both the macro and micro events of social experience. Prattis describes the macro level as how the anthropologist looks at a society in holistic terms. This is an attempt to find its social structure by examining their patterned behavior. The micro level on the other hand, is looking at what the people in the society are actually doing. The author then takes all these concepts and turns them into ways of looking at situational logic in a particular social structure. In order to demonstrate his theory of situational logic, Prattis uses Edmund Leach’s article, Political Systems in Highland Burma, as the social structure to be reviewed.

Leach’s article presents the social structure of the Kachin Hills communities. It shows that the organization of the society is in constant contradiction because part is made up of a Shan autocracy while the other is gumlao democracy. But in fact, neither of these divisions are right because the majority of Kachin communities are organized by gumsa feudalities. Prattis uses this example to show that through the analysis of situational logic, there will be clear data on how this system of structural variation works. In order to do this he focuses on the rise and fall of Kachin gusma chiefs and their role in society.

Prattis explains how the system of the Kachin communities work, but also asserts that he did not set out to make a complete analysis of the social dynamics of the community. Instead he sees situational logic as a key “building block” in order to comprehend how a social system operates and that it can also be used as a tool to reduce a complicated analysis of social structure into something much more comprehensible, like he did with Leach’s article on Highland Burma.


The commentators agreed with some of the argument put forth by Prattis, but at the same time they saw important parts missing in his analysis of situational logic. They said that he rejects the use of the concepts micro and macro as a method for understanding social reality and instead only sees situational logic and equilibrium analysis as a sound method, but these are not necessarily unique ideas. Most of the criticism came from the author’s analysis of Leach’s article. Leach responded to Prattis’ argument saying that it added nothing to his intended argument. He thought that Prattis focused on the wrong areas of his article to criticize. Leach said Prattis could have challenged him on the population he chose because it was too remote from reality to be of interest. Some of the commentators felt the same as Leach saying that he did not add anything to the basic argument that was outlined. Others said that Prattis did not seem to understand the article because he took that argument and regarded it as something completely different from what Leach was aiming at.


The author defends his work by saying that he did not intend to replicate Leach’s work or to do a complete analysis of the society as Leach had done. His only aim was to demonstrate that he could apply his theoretical statement to the system that Leach was studying. Prattis attempts to address each of the commentators concerns about his article. He mainly tried to explain the confusion that the commentators saw in his article with regards to his use of the term equilibrium. In such cases he goes back and defines exactly what was meant by the term. In other cases he got very defensive because he saw the comments as irrational because the commentators were trying to discredit his whole theory.

ANNE MALONEY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa).

Prattis, J. I. Situational Logic, Social Structure, and Highland Burma. Current Anthropology March, 1976 Vol.17(1):97-105.

The author lays out his theoretical stance, the concept of situational logic, within the framework of both equilibrium systems and micro/macro levels of analysis. He believes that it is a flaw of anthropologists and other social scientists to consider micro and macro levels as separate realms; and therefore, situational logic is a means by to join two domains into an integrated and accurate view of the social world. First, he outlines situational logic in terms of an individual’s relative social position and life history and then he defines and delineates the realms of micro and macro social analysis before further advocating for the theoretical merit of his theory.

After Pratttis outlines and locates his theory amongst the greater anthropological works, he imposes his theoretical construct upon the example of Highland Burma. Prattis bounces the greater social structure of Highland Burma off of the ability of social actors to change their social position within the plethora of choices available in an attempt to show the relationship between individuals and the greater social structure. As such, the author establishes both the flexibility and the equilibrium of his example. He outlines the various forms of government-Shan autocracies, Gumalo democracies and Gumsa fuedalities-and how each relate to the social steps and available choices for certain individuals living therein. As such, he attempts to show how his construct can create an analytical tool to gain direct insight into the subjective world of a people by examining both social position and capacity to change within their society.

Prattis establishes his credibility first by outlining his theory, and then by bringing in outside sources that the reader from this time period will identify with thus bolster his believability and license to relate unbiased information. The author places his own interpretation on the theoretical constructs of the past before finally drawing on the Highland example to ground his position in the real world and close his argument. The Highland situation not only serves to bring the authors point of view into a concrete social world, but also further advocates a way of gathering and interpreting social information and phenomena in order to arrive at an integrated view of the culture itself.


The commentators do not wholly agree with Prattis’ article. Indeed, some critics consider his article to be both overly broad in scope and devoid theoretical originality. Moreover, one critic points out that Prattis’ terms are both vague and misleading. For example, does social position refer to an individuals rank within their society? Nonetheless, most critics do agree that the article presents an interesting albeit theoretically shallow position for social interpretation. One critic went so far as to explain situational logic as merely an individual’s perception of his or her own social position.


Conversely, Prattis defends his position by advocating the fact that his framework is merely one tool for the examination of a system in a state of flux. This system, he relates, was not intended to replicate the original ethnography of Highland Burma but merely provide another theoretical point of discussion. Furthermore, he explains that his theory is not bulletproof and must be slowly improved over time as with all theories that fall within the midrange of two theoretical extremes. He maintains that mid range theories cannot, by their nature, be all encompassing. Prattis even goes so far as to mention that one critic’s attack was altogether pointless.

RYAN McFARLANE Okanagan University College (Diana E French).

Rosengren, Karl Erik. Malinowski’s Magic: The Riddle of the Empty Cell. Current Anthropology December, 1976 Vol.17(4):667-685.

In this article, Karl Rosengren examines Malinowski’s three cornered constellation theory. Malinowski constructed this theory based on Trobriand fisherman practices, who developed the conception that success relied on magic. He proposed to define a tripod type relationship between magic, science and religion. However, this single example left out the important connection between science and religion. The author attempts to develop Malinowski’s three-cornered constellation theory because he believes this missing connection causes the analysis to be an incomplete typology.

Rosengren argues that in order to define the relationship between magic, science and religion a multi-dimensional classification typology is required. The social behaviors of humans based on magic, science and religion must be classified into separate cells in a grid-type format. In doing so, the author proposes to answer, “the riddle of the empty cell.”(668) Therefore, he desires to find the connection between science and religion that Malinowski could not accomplish himself. He assembles his argument by discussing social scientists such as Wax and Wax, and Nadel and Goody, who have carried out related theoretical work on this topic. He relates a critical paper written by Wax and Wax who proposed examples and counterexamples of the relationship between magic, science and religion. He states that the analysis did uncover concepts like the “magical world view”, (667) but it did not entirely solve any answers to the original question. His next debate is compared to the view of Nadel. He ultimately divided science into science and technique or technology. This alteration proved to be progressive but still maintained a weak argument.

Finally, Rosengren contrasted the Malinowski-Nadel comparison with Goody. This contrast proved to be beneficial, and it allowed for an extensive comparative analysis of the Malinowski, Nadel and Goody typologies. Rosengren used tables or cell columns as examples to provide clarity and evidence for these theories. The author concludes his article by questioning how to apply this example in the future as a standard to compare to because it developed and combined relative theories on the subject. He likewise discusses new perspectives and the effects of modern magic on these theories.


The comments provided were positive concerning Rosengren’s proposal that this model be built upon further, and not be forgotten. However, the readers also viewed his work as incomplete, and offered some suggestions on why and how to improve his theory. On the negative side, it was clear that the reviewers felt Rosengren’s definitions of magic, science and religion should be redefined and elaborated upon further. They also understood the lack of importance Rosengren gave concerning the insider opposed to the outsider perception of the above definitions. Finally, there was a common consensus that Rosengren should have considered more thoroughly the evolution of modern religions, scientific thought and magical beliefs.


In Rosengren’s final reply, he did agree with his reviewers. He acknowledged that comparing the model with related and more recent published papers would obtain different results. He personally and systematically addressed each individual comment and concern. It appears that he was confused based on the polar positions the critics took. Some supported his theory but believed alternate approaches could have been taken. However, he accredited most concerns as viable and worth noting, and he welcomed the feedback on his work.

SALINA WIGHT Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Suckling, John. A Naïve Model of a Stone Age Economy. Current Anthropology, March, 1976 Vol.17(1);105-115.

In the article, the author provides a model of a Stone Age economy based on the factors of environment, available technology, and the element of risk and uncertainty. The three factors are assumed non-static over time and are never dependent of each other. He defines Environmental factors as factors that directly or indirectly affect production, technology is knowledge and experience of a society resulting in production from a certain environment. Risk and uncertainty are uncontrollable phenomena: risk is when probabilities are attached to future events, and uncertainty is when future events are unpredictable. Suckling’s model is a system with five interlocking subsystems, and he represents them throughout the article with diagrams and abstract models. In subsystem A, he says environment and technology determines the population of the society since they determine production options. In subsystem B, redistribution and reciprocity are the result to uncertainty of output, so groups with similar risk factors make agreements of redistribution and reciprocity with one another as a function of insurance. In subsystem C, specialization in activity and production is a society’s reaction to risk. In subsystem D, dividing the year into labor and leisure time is determined by population, which places a limit on maximum available labor time. Also, technology allows options for the use of the labor time. In subsystem E, technology and risk result in work groups made up of multiple basic productive units. The work pattern is described by three determinants: available labor time is limited by work and leisure time division, technology results in varying labor-time requirements, and exchange as a reaction to risk.

The author then provides a dynamic analysis of the subsystems to make predictions of reaction to change in Stone Age societies. In subsystem A and D, changes in technology or environment are necessary for population increase. These changes will be sufficient if they are small and take place over time, making them easy to absorb by the population, and realized with slow increases in standards of living. In subsystems B and C, changes in risk of an environment are slow and not easily identified. In subsystem E, change in technology impact labor-time requirements. This impact is seen where the reduction of labor input is needed, at times of peak labor demand. New technology will take over current production patterns by starting new modes of production or expanding exchange opportunities.


The commentators were very critical of Suckling’s article, saying it is incomplete and difficult to interpret with non-exacting definitions of variables. The concepts used are seen as partial. One commentator sees an absence of appropriate economic concepts. Another thinks that anthropological problems may not be solved by using economics since Suckling is attempting an “impossible explanation of Stone Age societies” because he focuses only on economic variables and leaves out important political and social factors which are important for understanding societies in general. One commentator says that population size is determined by more factors than food availability, for instance, male and female fertility, birth rates, mortality rates, genetics, location, and other factors.


John Suckling replies to the criticisms dealing with them individually. He breaks the criticisms down, dealing with them in groups. The three groups are methodological, definition and meaning, and substantive criticisms. He says the main point of his paper was to explain the transfer from small to larger groupings of people. His model seeks to explain why economic and social relationships arise. To understand the reason people form societies, fundamental factors in the economic sphere must be focused on. These are environment, available technology, and the element of risk and uncertainty. He then says that the lack of exact definitions was from his deliberate generality of the model. Suckling accepts responsibility for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

JEFF WITUK Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Winzeler, Robert L. Ecology, Culture, Social Organization, and State Formation in Southeast Asia. Current Anthropology December, 1976. Vol.17(4):623-640.

In this paper, the author looks at why state formation in Southeast Asia may have happened relatively late and in some ways incompletely. The author uses existing theories of state formation to construct a hypothesis for the late and incomplete state formation in Southeast Asia.

In looking at ecological conditions under which states emerge, the author first looks at two explanations as to why tropical environments are a limiting factor on cultural development. The first explanation is lowland tropical shifting cultivation or swidden agriculture. The second is based on the idea that higher forms of political and economic organization arise where there is an economic surplus and ecological diversity. The author then turns to technological adaptation in relation to the environment and Wittfogel’s (1956) hypothesis concerning irrigation. Next, the idea of population change is examined along with Boserup’s (1965) hypothesis about population densities. The author then shifts his attention to descent groups and the work of Freedman (1958) and Fox (1972). These two works look at the importance of corporate unilineal descent groups as forming the initial processes of state formation. This, the author states, is important to Southeast Asia because such descent groups are lacking, kinship is generally bilateral and corporate descent groups are absent. The next subject the author deals with is the possibility that the social organization might be better approached in terms of a broader concept of culture. He states that there is too much similarity between the people of Southeast Asia to imply the responsibility of religious tradition.

The author concludes that comparisons made in regards to Southeast Asia have been minimal and reasons for this include little archaeological evidence. Also, specialists have seen Southeast Asia as too complicated and diverse to grasp. He suggests that conditions for state formation do not explain what did or did not happen in Southeast Asia. Because of how small and incompletely developed these states were and the rapidity in which these states self-destructed, he suggests that problems understanding them lie within organization, not ecology or adaptation. He also states that ecology and adaptation play an important role in understanding state formation in Southeast Asia.


One main criticism of the author is his failure to define “state,” which forces the reader to infer the author’s meaning. One commentator mentioned that the author does not make use of papers in the volume on Asiatic modes of production and another states that the author does not use Hocart’s Kings and Councillors. Others said that the lack of bilateral descent as a delaying factor in state formation does not hold up, and lack of unilineal groups does not inhibit state formation.


The author’s response to not defining “state” is that a review of the various definitions of the term would be lengthy and redundant. He says a brief outline of crucial features may have helped but these became clear throughout the paper. The author stated that he appreciated the recommendation to use the papers on Asiatic modes of production and regrets not taking them into account. In reference to Hocart’s work, the author does not think it applies. As for the bilateral descent groups, the author states that these are not as common as the commentators think and these assumptions come from observers dealing with meager data.

NICHOLAS LEDEN Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Wolpoff, Milford H. Some Aspects of the Evolution of Early Hominid Sexual Dimorphism.Current Anthropology December, 1976 Vol. 17(4):579-606

The author’s intentions were to create a single uniform procedure for determining the sex of australopithecines based on canine breadth. Wolpoff examine the procedure’s accuracy and considered whether any other criteria could be used as data. After this analysis, the author determined where to place the observed sexual dimorphism into an evolutionaly context.

Data was taken from four groups of hominids: graciles, East African Homo and South and East African Robusts. Combined and separated data was taken from each group. Canine breadth was observed to determine sex. Teeth were used because they are the most common and best preserved remains of hominids. Canine length was not used because of the wear that can take place on the canine due to eating. The canine breadth of modern day primates, including humans, was observed as well. There is a lot of overlap between males and female in the size of canine breadth, while create ambiguity when determining the sex in australopithecines. Data from australopithecines showed a great degree of sexual dimorphism when analyzing canine breadth. Wolpoff felt the measuring of the canine seemed to be a good indicated of sex although there was some ambiguity due to the overlap of measurements from both sexes of australopithecines.


Most of the commentators agreed with Wolpoff’s methods for determining the sex of australopithecines. Emiliano Aguirre argued that the data is too broad and that not all of these foru groups of hominids can be measure as a single group. Kenneth A.R. Kennedy thought that other part of the skeletal remains australopithecines could be studied too. B.A. Wood points out that the “homo” data is classified as being all female, and that the Robust data is classified as being all male. This does not make much sense to him because each of these types of hominids represents separate population from different area and times.


The author was happy with the comments provided. Wolpoff replied to Aguirre that the sample may be broad, but it has to be otherwise there would not be enough data to analyze and make an argument. The author replied to Kennedy that he took data form the canine breadth out of necessary because there is simply not enough of the other remains to study. He agree with Wood that sexual determination from the canine will not be accurate every time.

RYAN GRIFFEN Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

Wolpoff, Milford H. Some Aspects of the Evolution of Early Hominid Sexual Dimorphism.Current Anthropology December, 1976 Vol.17(4):579-606.

The purpose of this article is to examine extensively and establish a particular method in which degrees of sexual dimorphism in early hominids can be ascertained. The primary focus of this research is to investigate one of the oldest and least known hominid groups, the australopithecines. The main theme behind this work is to “reconstruct the ecology, behaviour and phylogeny of the australopithecines” (579). Wolpoff’s contention is that he can institute a single accurate method of discovering the sex of a hominid (australopithecine), and place this hominid in its appropriate spot within the known evolutionary scale using its observed sexual dimorphic characteristics.

His main method for establishing sex and eventually dimorphism were through dental remains. The reason for this, as he contends, is the archaeological record for australopithecines is limited, and most of it is contained within extensive dental remains. By measuring a number of different teeth (mainly canines) and sockets, Wolpoff determines his method for discovering aspects of sexual dimorphism amongst early hominids. Although very technical, he supplements his research with a number of tables to indicate his findings and to further strengthen his single procedure argument. In addition, he also provides some information to suggest that while sexual dimorphism was evident in early hominid canine teeth, the degree of this canine dimorphism gradually lessened through time, and physical, bodily dimorphism increased. This he concludes came as the result in the development and use of tools and the subsequent lack in use of canine teeth.


Most of the academics who replied were pleased with the approach that Wolpoff took in his research objectives. They applaud his techniques and claim this research was a badly needed piece to the often confusing and misunderstood area of evolutionary and biological archaeology. The commentators who provide positive critiques of the article add their own thoughts and ideas to further their and Wolpoff’s thesis and contentions about early hominid evolution. Those that do not agree with his methods and conclusions insist his one procedure method of examining only one feature of the skeleton is subject to question. They also indicate that some of the data Wolpoff suggests, primarily the bimodal aspect of australopithecines, is problematic.


To these comments, Wolpoff thanks his colleagues for providing both criticisms and support for his work and hypothesis and replies to each of the comments in a constructive manner. In an extensive reply section, he offers further supplementary evidence to support the ideas in his article and tries to supply those of his critics with additional information to answer any questions or thoughts they may have had about his work. He adds as well that he firmly believes his work is important and he hopes it and the criticisms, both positive and negative provide readers with a broader sense of sexual dimorphism in evolutionary studies.

JOE DESJARDINS Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Y’Edynak, Gloria L. A Test of a Migration Hypothesis: Slavic Movements into the Karst Region of Yugoslavia. Current Anthropology, Sep., 1976. Vol.17 (3): 413-428.

Y’Edynak attempts to explain cultural change through the migration of the Slavs into the Karst region of Yugoslavia. She formulated hypotheses to test the physical remains from exhumed cemeteries in Yugoslavia in order to study migration from a physically anthropological perspective.. She notes that culture and population change are separate variables and should be studied independently in order to accurately pinpoint change in any period of prehistory.

Material culture can develop patterns of change and/or testable hypotheses. It is suggested that a multidisciplinary approach is necessary when studying change in material culture and/or population change in order to properly discuss all facets of the research question. She draws information from other disciplinary sources and expects others to reciprocate her action in order to add to their own research.

Various objects of archaeological importance were discovered buried along with the remains. Written documents were also used in accordance with this study. She hypothesized that the Slavs moved into modern day Yugoslavia mid 6th century along the Danube River. These conclusions were drawn based solely on archaeological and paleoarchaeological evidence before more specific scientific examination began.

Four separate mathematically styled tests were utilized to gather information. The first method was a simple T-test to look for differences in testing populations. The next part of the statistical analysis included examination of craniometrical data. To uncover further evidence group analysis was done. After uncovering four major groups (Pre-Slavic, Early medieval, Late Medieval and Recent) more refinement analysis was undertaken to discriminate morphologic differences.

She concludes only a small amount of morphological and genetic difference exist between the populations in the karst zone. The answer to the research question must be determined through a different disciplinary approach primarily linguistic analysis. Population replacement and other commonly addressed theories concerning a change in population must be examined as the evidence showed little overall change in material culture.


Many of the commentators noted Y’Edyak’s conclusions were plausible. Some disagreed with her methods and approach. Most commonly mentioning the results would be more legitimate if a larger skeletal population was incorporated to justify the results of her data and further testing would be required. Most responses applauded her notion of a multidisciplinary approach in solving the problem of ethnogenesis in this area and some offered advice on how to properly integrate the idea. Many commented on obtaining similar results during the course of their own research and wholeheartedly agree to incorporate her work into the pool of similar research done on this geographic zone.


The author evaluates the responses by replying to the three areas most commonly commented upon: 1) Research model, 2) Sampling and statistics, 3) Interpretation. She pursued an osteological angle to her research since it had not been previously implemented. She felt the size of her testing area was sufficient, as she would have “better control” over her experiment. She suggests that further testing be done by various specialists to gain additional perspective. She admits that there is the problem of deciphering whether the cemeteries chosen were interpreted to be Slavic based on the material culture without reference to possible spoken Slavic language from the area. Linguistic tendencies and patterns from the area would have complemented any migratory evidence as per her discussion of a multidisciplinary approach. A larger test population would have been more credible, but she did not perceive this to be a problem She stands by her interpretation claiming a significant change in migrant populations would have resulted in evident cranial differences.

JENNIFER KIELY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)

y’Edynak, Gloria, Jean. A Test of a Migration Hypothesis: Slavic Movements into the Karst Region of Yugoslavia. Current Anthropology September, 1976 17(3):413-427.

In the article A Test of a Migration Hypothesis: Slavic Movements into the Karst Region of Yugoslavia, author Gloria Jean y’Edynak takes an in depth look at reasons behind the massive migration, as well as the change in culture within the Yugoslavian frontier. She also looks at analyzing the impact which the migration had upon the indigenous people, while studying the presence of Slavs in the area, through examining craniums found at these sites. An excellent component to the essay is the geographical background to the area, and the history of the region, given by y’Edynak. The history component covers the Slavic people in general, and gives several hypotheses for reasons why the migration actually took place. This thorough examination is critical in understanding the rest of the paper.

y’Edynak uses cranial examinations to give support for her theories on the Slavic peoples’ migration. By using a large area of the former Yugoslavian coastline, y’Edynak examines a series of sites and compares them to the other sites which are included in her full examination. Although cranial examinations are performed by y’Edynak, she fails to use other archaeological data to further prove her points and theories. She does however, produce a substantial number of tables which include data on size and gender, elaborating on the craniums found at these sites.


The comments presented by several critics vary to a great extent. Although the information supplied by the author gives a relatively decent background to the topic, it is however a rather brief and basic analysis historically. The great migrations from the west to east and vice versa, played major roles in European and Western Civilization history. There are significant works out there on this issue which have several proposals on why the migrations happened in the first place, (some mentioned in this paper already).

Also, many agree that the judgment of this article is very good in composition as well as in material. However, it lacks in several key aspects which could make it an even better article. Suggestions for improving the article revolves around one central theme, and that theme is on more research, while at the same time, looking at the overall topic in a more broader sense, including information which relates to the topic proposed, helping argue the overall thesis. Instead of focusing mainly on cranial analysis, examine other aspects in archaeology to prove the thesis.


The reply given tends to either answer or address the questions proposed in the comment section. An area which seems to be an important point is the act of addressing increased research within the Yugoslavia region. Admitting to her fault, the author realizes that more extensive research should be used in testing her many hypotheses which she proposes, such as those about settlement patterns and construction areas.

Another response y’Edynak brings up in her reply, includes many assumptions she created in her article in the first place. These areas include Slavic cemeteries and issues revolving around that topic.

The author also agrees with her critics, that further concentration should be focused on aspects including demographic statistics, migration and development, as seen by y’Edynak herself in the response. Again, this relates to what has been said earlier.

KEITH WILSON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)