Current Anthropology 1982

Abruzzi, William S. Ecological Theory and Ethnic Differentiation among Human Populations. Current Anthropology, Feb. 1982. Vol. 23 Issue 1

William Abruzzi seeks to explain why ethnic boundaries occur within human ecological communities by applying ecological theory. Abruzzi explains that human and nonhuman organisms form communities that are socially organized and function to divide labor. These communities function as energy flow systems also known as ecological systems. Energetically efficient systems are comprised of specialized groups of individuals who are adapted to exploit certain resources by specialized means. These adaptions can cause boundaries to develop among human and non-human communities. Abruzzi first looks at the occurance of species boundaries in order to understand how ethnic boundaries develop. Natural selection operates under stable ecological conditions and increases the number of independant isolating mechanisms which in turn enhance the stablitiy of the ecological community.

Abruzzi defines species as genetic units connected by the abiliy to exchange hereditary material. From this he considers species boundaries to be evident, genetic discontinuities in nature brought on by reproductive isolation between two sympatric populations as a result of isolating mechanisms. Abruzzi applies the selection theory to understand how species boundaries evolve. The selection theory predicts that in competiton the organisms whose energy-capturing devices can most efficiently channel available energy are at an advantage. He finds that species originate and are determined according to their selected specialization for efficiently exploiting available resources.

The formation of ethnic populations can be seen by applying the selection theory to human populations. According to Abruzzi, human communities are organized by the division of labor requirements necessary to exploit resources given the conditions imposed by ecological systems. Stable ecological conditions select for increasing legitamacy of the social and reproductive isolation of potentially competing ethnic populations. An increase in the complexity of isolating mechanisms separating ethnic populations reduces the permeability of ethnic boundaries and standardizes social behaviors as they relate to intra- and interethnic relations. This shows an accordance of ethnic boundaries and certain behavioral characteristics For Abruzzi, the formation and maintenance of distinct ethnic populations should be viewed as a function of niche diversification at the community level and the selection of labor diversitfication.


Thirteen anthropologists commented on Abruzzi’s article, and generally found it to be an interesting and valid approach to investigating the possible effect ecological systems have on the emergence of ethinic differentiation among human populations. In general the anthropologists agreed that there is similarity between species’ biological adaptations to ecological environments for the exploitation of resources, and humans’ behavioral adaptations to social organization for the same purpose. However some, such as Richard Fidler felt that the comparison was too general, and while very much alike, the concepts and definitions of ethnic populationas are certainly not the same. Also, Peter Hinton mentioned many of the adaptations Abruzzi spoke of where cultural, and culture and ethnicity are two distingusishable concepts, and also that his accounts ignored the importance of certain factors, such as historical and political, which can also serve to categorize humans in communities.


William Abruzzi defends his article by stating that his intent was to focus primarily on the processes that are similar between the models he uses, and not the structures. He agrees that when the models are considered from a structural view, they are not comparable, but the processes of change and organization within the models are in fact similar. He also argues that certain factors which the commentors claimed were ignored, were actually just redefined in terms of general ecological princibles. Abruzzi also notes that his intention was not to explain all the features associated with ethnic relations, but merely to create a model which attempts to explain occurances of human behavior and possible external conditions that effect and mold it. In order to do this, Abruzzi explains that it is necessary to isolate these conditions, and look at them in their relation to a variety of circumstances.

JESSICA BELL Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Abruzzi, William. Ecological Theory and Ethnic Differentiation among Human Populations.Current Anthropology February, 1982 Vol.23(1):13-32.


In this article, Abruzzi argues the formation of individual human ethnic populations in multiethnic societies can be compared to the process of species formation in multispecie communities. Each ethnic population holds a niche in the environment; if two populations are trying to survive in the same niche, the better adapted population will succeed. To base this argument, Abruzzi gives a brief history of the study of human ecology within anthropology, saying that the subject has only been explored since the 1970s, although it is somewhat brought up past in environmental considerations in the earliest anthropological theory. He supports most of his argument on findings in biological ecology.

Abruzzi uses this article as a way to compare ecology to human populations. He gives examples of species that do not breed together, not because of an inability to produce offspring, but because of reproductive isolation. Reproductive isolation between two populations involves many forces, most of which have nothing to do with the ability of the to exchange genetic information.

To prove this point, Abruzzi defines an ethnic population as “the assemblage of persons with a considerable number of behavioral characteristics in common, a shared historical identity, and a higher incidence of marriage with members of the same population than members of other populations” (16). This meaning is derived from Boughey’s definition of a population in ecology as “an assemblage of organisms with a considerable number of characteristics in common, a similar origin, and no barriers that prevent individual members’ freely interbreeding with one another when heterosexual organisms are brought together” (16). Abruzzi prefers the term “ethnic population” because it is a term that can be universally used and because such wording recognizes the analytical difference between populations and other groups like religious congregations or political factions. Ethnic populations do not rely on genetic mechanism, but rather on the transmission of learned behavior.

Abruzzi continues by demonstrating the evolution of species borders and that species are created in specific areas because of the ability of one species can best exploit the land. He also points out that decreased community stability leads to the decline of certain populations. Following this point, he shows that the formation of ethnic populations is similar to the formation of species. He notes that although not in total symbiotic relationships, many ethnic populations do live in a semi-symbiotic state. Examples of niche diversification between ethnic populations that Abruzzi uses are in Rwanda with Hutu farmers and Tutsi herders, castes in India and Anglo-Amerindians relations in the American West. Because this relationship is not fully symbiotic, the ethnic populations that can exploit the land most efficiently are the ones that succeed.

COMMENTATORS (Judith Brown and Thomas Durbin, Richard Fidler, Donald Hardesty, Peter Hinton, M.C. Hurlich, John Kennedy, H.B. Levine, Ubaldo Martinez Veiga, Michael MOerman, F.L. Pelt, Eric Barry Ross, T.S. Vasulu and Bruce Winterhalder)

There are mixed reviews of this article from the commentators. Most commentators feel that the article addresses important points that should be looked at in anthropology. Nevertheless, some commentators thought that Abruzzi takes the concepts of ecology and the formation of species too literally when applying it to ethnic populations and that, as a result, his theory is reductionist. Many of the commentators note examples of ethnic populations where these rules do not apply. Richard Fidler states that maybe this theory would work if one was looking at an untouched ecosystem, but in a multiethnic population, everything stops working. As well as using the metaphor of ecology too literally, the commentators also felt the article ignored social, political economic and historical factors. On a readability level, there was a general sentiment that Abruzzi’s work was dry and mechanical with a lack of concrete examples of ethnic populations that follow this theory and too many examples of species formation in ecology.


Abruzzi defends his article by saying his system of defining ethnic populations is not reductionist, but systematic. He does not claim that the formation and maintenance of distinct populations within human and non-human communities derive from the same principles. He goes on to say that concepts of ethnic population must be simplified to understand them. At the end of the response he states that this kind of research is important within the field of anthropology, as it moves scientific explanation forward.

HELEN BAKER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura).

Alden, John R. Trade and Politics in Proto-Elamite Iran. Current Anthropology, 1982. Vol. 23: 613-640.

Alden argues that the Proto-Elamite period, from 3300-2800 B.C., reflects changing political and economic relationships in the southwestern highlands of Iran. The main power of this Proto-Elamite hegemony originates in control over major trade routes, as opposed to control over means of production such as arable land or natural resources. The Proto-Elamite sites, including Susa, Nineveh, Ghazir, among others, are characterized by shared styles in ceramics, art, and architecture and by a unique system of writing and recording. The author maintains that Proto-Elamite sites are inherently more difficult to discover and interpret due to lack of controlled excavation and repeated surface collecting. These features resulted in the removal of a significant portion of the diagnostic pottery from many sites and make Proto-Elamite occupations likely to be proportionately underrepresented in the survey data. However, Alden is able to utilize Proto-Elamite documentary sources, in the form of economic tablets found in Susa, Shahr-I Sokhta, and Sialk, to support his hypothesis. He concludes that Proto-Elamite influence grew rapidly at the end of the 4th millennium B.C. and declined equally rapidly with the establishment of maritime trade in the Persian Gulf several centuries later. He supports this by documenting the chronological relationships between excavation levels showing dramatic increase of highland materials in the lowland areas in principal Proto-Elamite sites. This increase supports Alden’s thesis that Proto-Elamite hegemony decreased in the later Early Dynastic to no longer restrict Mesopotamian access to resource areas of Iran. Rather, Mesopotamian merchants could sail further east to bypass the entire area under Proto-Elamite control to access old and new sources for highland products. The highland Proto-Elamites, losing their Mesopotamian trading partners, had to reintegrate the lowland areas into their economy. Hence, since the Proto-Elamites no longer dominated the trading, their hegemony decreased, highlighting the importance of control over trade.

Alden concludes with two general principles supported by his model: 1) single elite groups in pre-historic complex societies controlled and manipulated both political and economic institutions, and 2) controlling elites attempted to control the supply and minimize the procurement costs for the items and materials their societies require. An excellent demonstration of this theory is Tepe Farukhabad, a lowland site in western Iran, peripheral to Proto-Elamite dominated highland areas. Being within the Mesopotamian sphere of influence, the imported highland materials at this site should be expensive (rare) during Proto-Elamite hegemony and cheaper (more common) both before the Uruk and after the Early Dynastic, according to Alden’s theory. Indeed, Alden’s data, taken from Wright (1981a), shows a peak in price of highland imports (chert, shell, carnelian, lapis lazuli) during the Late Uruk and Early Jemdet Nasr periods, when the Proto-Elamite hegemony controlled access to the Iranian highlands.

Although the evidence for the movement of small groups of Proto-Elamites into the Iranian highlands is strongest only in the Kur River Basin, there are several possible causes for the movement: 1) population growth, 2) lowland attempts to control highland populations, 3) military/political pressure forcing groups out of lowlands, and 4) attempt by lowland societies to control the movement of highland resources. The growth of Proto-Elamite economic power ultimately resulted in the decline of Susa and the Susiana region, with a shift to Malyan, in the Kur River Basin. While Alden recognizes that other factors such as social, religious, and ethnic relationships between highland and lowland groups are integral to the cultural evolution, he maintains that trade is an important and necessary variable to be explored.


Numerous commentators critiqued Alden’s simplicity in approach, for example his focus on peripheral expansion (Johnson), lack of consideration for usual difficulty connecting archaeological records with short, precise time intervals (Hodges), lack of sufficient empirical evidence beyond the Proto-Elamite tablets (Kohl), and insufficient consideration of other societal and interregional interactions (Marchese, Shaffer). While Kohl admits that nearly all archaeological reconstruction involves imaginative use of an imperfect database, Kohl, Kormann, Nissen, and Watkins point out the constant danger of inappropriately associating material culture with distinct groups of people, as Alden did with Proto-Elamite potsherds. Lamberg-Karlovsky maintains that Alden ignored the previous chronological historical background of the “early integration” of lowland Mesopotamia and later emergence of the Proto-Elamites. Moreover, Lamberg and Watkins find it inconceivable that small outsider Proto-Elamite colonies could have monopolized long-distance trade.


Alden states that he did not assume all sites in the region were culturally Proto-Elamite, but that several sites during that time range were relevant to the Proto-Elamite phenomenon. In response to his inappropriate correlation of people to pottery, Alden reiterates his original argument that material culture gives some support to the possibility that ethnic homogeneity occurred, however political hegemony does not require nor suggest cultural similarities. Alden regrets that Kohl distorts his ideas without putting forth any alternatives. Alden asserts he is not interested in determinism, thus enabling him to see a highland group seizing power given geopolitical opportunity. Alden also articulates that the “inconceivability” of small groups gaining power is lessened when considering the span of several hundred years and the small, peripheral locations. Finally, Alden points out that much of the difference between Lamberg-Karlovsky and himself stems from differences between the past and present. For instance, Lamberg-Karlovsky criticizes Alden’s small number of sites to back up his thesis, yet Alden points out the inaccuracy of expecting the same type of data sets during the two periods, if only for the extreme increase in Mesopotamian population six to seven centuries later. Thus, economic comparison between the two eras is unsurprisingly illegitimate.

MARY SCHMITZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Bossen, Laurel. Plantations and Labor Force Discrimination in Guatemala. Current Anthropology June, 1982 Vol.23(3):263-268.

This article appears in a special issue of Current Anthropology devoted to prize-winning papers from the XLIII International Conference of Americanists, and it studies labor patterns on plantations from a political economy perspective. In her article, Bossen describes factors that determine and influence labor recruitment on plantations in Guatemala, and how they affect the overall community. Her data result from four months of research on two plantations in Guatemala that she names Montecafé, which grows coffee, and Cañaveral, which grows sugar.

Montecafé is a small, family run plantation while Cañaveral is a large, unionized corporate plantation. Bossen shows that between these two plantations, the patterns of sexual discrimination in labor are distinctive. Montecafé hires equal numbers of men and women for seasonal workers, whereas Cañaveral has no seasonal female workers and only 1% of the permanent (unionized) workers are women.

Bossen shows that past explanations for the sexual disparities in labor recruitment are not sufficient. She proves that cultural factors, the traditional divisions of labor, and special capabilities of men are not the reasons for the discrimination by evaluating certain case studies on other plantations. She claims that when plantations become more highly mechanized and unionized, fewer females are hired. Bossen shows that the pattern of labor discrimination at Cañaveral has happened at plantations in other countries. Bossen believes the reason for the discrimination is due solely to the plantation recruitment policy, not outside factors.

Plantation owners, Bossen states, are interested in keeping a high degree of control over their workers. Unionization and worker solidarity threaten that control. By excluding women from the workforce, they are dividing the workforce population and decreasing their chances for solidarity. Also, Bossen believes that plantation owners want to secure cheap labor now and in the future. Cañaveral hires a number of migrant peasants for seasonal jobs. By solely hiring men and not women, Bossen states, they are encouraging a stable peasant population. The men leave the village to work, and then return to their wives. The workers will not choose to reside permanently close to the plantation without their wives. Lastly, if the women are staying in the village, the children most likely will as well, allowing them to grow up in the village and remain ignorant to national culture and langauge. This ensures future populations of peasants. Bossen believes that for these reasons, excluding women from the workforce at Cañaveral achieves their goal of securing cheap labor. Since Montecafé does not have a unionized labor force, they do not feel the need to leave out women to maintain control over the laborers.

Bossen concludes by assenting that not enough research has been done on the subject of labor discrimination on plantations and urges others to continue study. Understanding more about labor recruitment policies can prove to be beneficial in learning their far-reaching affects to society and culture.

DEBRA MORAVETZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Bossen, Laurel. Plantations and Labor Force Discrimination in Guatemala. Current Anthropology June, 1982 Vol.23(2):263-268.

In this article, Laurel Bossen examines factors that influence labor force recruitment on Guatemalan plantations. She argues that, along with rural wage laborers’ desire to work, the interests of plantation owners dictate recruitment policies and are based not only- or even primarily- on immediate cash concerns, also on long-term or less explicit factors. Bossen looks at the effect of selective plantation recruitment both on the plantation as well as the rural peasant communities that supply labor. She laments that the consequences of plantation hiring policies have, for the most part, been brushed aside by anthropologists, who have instead tended to concentrate on the conditions that provoke rural peasant migration.

After beginning with a brief discussion of the history of the subsistence peasant and commercial plantation sectors, Bossen sexual differentiation as a principal means of comparing two Guatemalan plantations with distinct labor contracting policies. One is a large-scale modern business with unionized workers that contracts an all-male labor force for both permanent and seasonal employment. The other plantation is significantly smaller with a non-unionized, family labor force comprised of both men and women.

The smaller of the two plantations, Montcafé, relies on coffee as its principal export crop, while citrus and dairy products play subordinate roles. This plantation employs a small number of regular male workers, most of who earn only slightly more than the migrant workers. Montcafé has 24 permanent employees and 400-500 seasonal workers at the height of the coffee picking season. Seasonal and temporary labor needs are filled by both sexes, either from peasant migration or available resident labor. Montcafé has no labor union and “troublesome” workers are swiftly let go.

The larger plantation, Cañaveral, is a sugar plantation that harvests coffee as a secondary crop. As one of the largest sugar plantations in the country, Cañaveral, though mostly family-owned, is organized as a public corporation and employs just under 500 rancheros, who make up the unionized labor force. The workforce at Cañaveral is overwhelmingly male and the seasonal and temporary labor is all male. During the off-season, the labor force includes hundreds of men and reaches nearly 1,000 during the height of the sugar harvesting season. The only women recruited as seasonal laborers are women who work as cooks. While cane-cutting is considered a male activity in Guatemala, coffee picking is done by women throughout the country. On this plantation, however, this is not the case, a fact which Bossen labels “surprising.” In fact, the only possibilities for nonprofessional women are work as a washerwoman, midwife, camp cook, or domestic employee for the management.

Bossen rejects the argument that different patterns in labor force recruitment are simply due to self-selection on the part of the workers, local culture, or women’s capacity to perform certain manual labor tasks, since cane-cutting is one of many tasks on the plantation. She also refutes that the higher wages earned by male resident laborers of Cañaveral allow women the luxury of remaining outside the labor force and instead attributes the differences between the two to long-term “political-economic” considerations. Specifically, she highlights the importance given by plantation management to the likelihood of worker solidarity through collective organization and the long-term effects of plantation employment on the supply of cheap labor. Bossen posits that mechanization of labor affects women’s’ work because their nonprofessional status prevents them from having a voice. She points out that this has occurred in sugar plantations throughout the Caribbean and thus concludes that “the exclusion of women on sugar plantations is related to the greater centralization, mechanization, and unionization of sugar production as compared with coffee production in Guatemala” (266).

Bossen argues that recognizing such differences in labor force recruitment is a necessary first step in better understanding “the impact of selective plantation recruitment not only on plantation communities, but also on the peasant communities which supply workers.” She argues that we need additional comparative studies examining both large and small, unionized and nonunionized, plantations in Guatemala.

EMILY SAUER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura).

Brennan, Curtiss T. Cerro Arena: Origins of the Urban Tradition on the Peruvian North Coast. Current Anthropology June, 1982 Vol.23(3):247-254.

This article by Curtiss T. Brennan is a reprint of his award-winning paper from the XLIII International Congress of Americanists. In it, he argues that the Salinar culture of northern coastal Peru was transitional between the Cupisnique phase (c.1250-400 BC) to the Mochica civilization (100-800 AD). Most of Brennan’s inferences come from the large Salinar site of Cerro Arena located in the Moche Valley.

Cerro Arena is the first large, highly organized, nucleated site before the Mochica period. Brennan uses architectural analysis to understand the social and economic organization of Salinar society by dividing the rooms into five different types: Class 1, finely finished residential rooms (i.e. having smooth clay walls, floors, and roofs); Class 2, roughly finished residential rooms (i.e. having rough walls, earth floors, and grass roofs); Class 3, small, finely finished “administrative” rooms; Class 4, roughly finished social-purpose rooms; and Class 5, small, well-finished rooms (i.e. having smooth unplastered walls, level sand-covered floors, and straw roofs). Next, Brennan categorizes building types. Type I buildings are large and finely finished. He further divides this group into: Variety A, the elite residence (a Class 1 room with attached “specialized” rooms); Variety B, the finely furnished administrated structure (Class 2 and Class 4 rooms separated by a corridor); and Variety C, the finely furnished ceremonial structure (finely finished platforms with adjacent Class 5 rooms). Type II structures, which make up most of Cerro Arena’s architecture, are small and roughly finished. Type III buildings consist of any number of well-built Class 5 rooms. Brennan argues that the segregation of building types implies activity specialization coordinated by a central authority. The wide range of architectural types at Cerro Arena indicates a complex diversity in social status. Similarly, the further diversity of elite structures corresponds to a well-developed specialization of political and economic organization. The site’s nucleation and proto-specialized activity areas argue for a centralized administration of political and economic activities.

Brennan also mentions that Cerro Arena’s location on a ridge bisecting the Moche Valley gave its occupants a way to regulate travel and also had defensive advantages. Cerro Arena also appears to be at the top of a settlement-size hierarchy for the Moche Valley and possibly the Virú Valley.

Brennan closes the article by restating his theory that the Salinar phase must be intermediate between the Cupisnique and Mochica cultures. Cerro Arena is the first large, nucleated, predominately residential North Coastal site with a diverse and specialized economy and social organization before the Mochica period. Although this topic is very briefly discussed in main article text, Brennan also adds his belief that endemic warfare, a major element of Mochica society, first appeared in the Salinar phase. The article concludes by stating that Salinar phase settlements distributed in both the Moche and Virú Valleys suggest that Mochica’s multi-valley influence began in Salinar times.

JACQUELINE F. PETKEWICZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Brennan, Curtiss. Cerro Arena: Urbanization on the Peruvian North Coast. Current Anthropology June, 1982 vol.23: 247-254

Brennon begins his article with the assertion that a lack of understanding exists, concerning the period of transition between the Cupisnique, the Mochica and the Chimu. He bases this on his own research concerning the composition of Cerro Arena’s architectural remains and pre-existing research about the distribution of Salinar-phase sites elsewhere in the Moche Valley.

Brennan divides his research into two groups. The first, types of rooms, is made up of five classes, while the second, types of buildings, consits of three varieties (A, B and C). According to Brennan, the degree of localized architectural specialization found, indicates the presence of a central authority and class stratification. The site’s nucleation, as well as the areas of specialized activity, implies administration of political and economic activities. He also talks about Salinar-phase sites located throughout the Moche Valley, which “support a view of Salinar society as economically, and perhaps also politically, well integrated and highly centralized.”

Brennan states that present evidence indicates that Cupisnique society had a well-developed system of social ranking, but no residential nucleation nor centralized economic and political organization, which are found later in the Mochica culture. Evidence points to the presence of a highly centralized Mochian society, composed of numerous complex social strata where the elite implemented authority in social, political and economic life. He uses this evidence to illustrate the main point of the article, centralizing around his belief that Cerro Arena and the Salinar can be seen as a transition from Cupisnique to Mochica. He concludes, “In all these respects-urbanism, commerce and sociopolitical administration- Cerro Arena and the Salinar can be said to constitute the beginnings of that distinctive North Coastal cultural complex which culminated in the successive Mochica and Chimu civilizations.”

AMAYA WEBSTER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Brooks, Robert L. Events in the Archaeological Context and Archaeological Explanation.Current Anthropology Feb., 1982 Vol.23(1):67-75.

In this article, Robert L. Brooks attempts to show that general explanation is restricted by its penchant for examining the “modal” pattern of the cultural system. He believes that archaeological explanation and New Archaeology are inadequate because they have neglected to explore variation in the archaeological context, especially the substantial individual and small-group behavior. Brooks suggests that before general explanation can be attempted, variable behavioral data must be studied. He proposes a scheme that distinguishes between the various levels of occupation in a cultural system and argues that its use will help archaeologists to conceptualize the behavioral elements that make up a cultural system and how they may be demonstrated in the archaeological context. The scheme is a matrix that distinguishes between actors and activities during the life-span of a site. The matrix, itself, is a box divided into nine smaller squares. Along the top, from left to right, Brooks lists the Actors, which consist of: 1) an individual, a single person; 2) an aggregate, two or more individuals; and 3) a composite, all of the individuals and aggregates of the settlement during its life-span. Along the left-hand side, from top to bottom, are the Actions, which consist of: 1) an event, an activity or task; 2) an episode, all of the events that take place during a day at the site; and 3) a series, all of the episodes that occur during the occupation of a settlement by a given society. The upper left-hand corner of the matrix represents what Brooks deems a behavioral pattern, an individual involved in one specific activity. The lower right-hand corner represents a normative pattern, what he calls all individual and group activities for the entire existence of the settlement. In general, the behavioral pattern is the representation of the actions of various members of society and a normative pattern is the more abstract, general impression of the actions of the society as a whole. In this way, the matrix provides a general diagram of the distinction between behavioral and normative patterns. Brooks suggests that archaeological features are one way in which individual and small-group activities can be discerned. Brooks hopes that when his scheme is used heuristically, it can lead to the identification of sets of particular events and this will permit the identification of variation in prehistoric cultural patterns. He concludes by adding that ethnoarchaeology appears to be the best way to correlate between the systemic context and the archaeological or behavioral context.


Nine commentators reviewed Brooks’ article. Robert L. Bettinger, Luis Alberto Borrero, David L. Carlson and David L. Pokotylo disagree with Brooks’ emphasis on individual and small-scale sites and his belief that analyses of these sites are essential to archaeological theory. Gordon Bronitsky, Kenneth L. Brown, John Clegg, Peter Ihm, and Ronald T. Marchese agree with the author on the subject. Carlson and Borrero believe the word “normative” can have a variety of meanings and object to its use. Borrero, along with Brown, questions the usefulness of Brooks’ matrix. Finally, Borrero, Brown and Pokotylo would like to see further testing of Brooks’ scheme, especially applied to small sites.


In his reply, Brooks separates his colleagues’ comments into three issues. First, the author reaffirms his belief that discrete analysis of individual and small group behavior is essential to archaeological theory. Next he waylays concerns about the usefulness of his matrix by saying that it is still in a formative stage. The last issue is whether small-site analysis is the most appropriate way to study individual and small group behavior. In response, Brooks regrets that he did not include a discussion of small-site analysis, but believes that it might only be effective when the sites are recent and single-component. Concluding, Brooks notes that his colleagues’ comments will help him elaborate on his scheme.

JACQUELINE F. PETKEWICZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Brooks, Robert L. Events in the Archaeological Context and Archaeological Explanation. Current Anthropology Feb. 1982 Vol 23 (1): 67-75

Brooks’ main concern in this article is that archaeology has a fault in that it fails to adequately explain culturally normative behaviors. He notes that some archaeologists think that being more scientifically precise is a solution to the problem, but Brooks does not agree. He explains that variable behaviors must be looked at before explaining a culture nomotheically.

Brooks argues that this fault is a result of characteristics inherent to the “archaeological context.” He gives the examples of Schiffer and Deetz’s ways of dividing cultures into units. Schiffer divides societies in this way: individual, small group, larger aggregate; whereas Deetz uses four units: individual, group, community, society. Brooks makes the case that “new archaeologists” haven’t considered these distinctions and are thus not examining the variation that they claim to, but instead are simply looking at the modal patterns.

Brooks diagrams a matrix that he proposes should be used to interpret site-formation processes. The diagram considers the effects of the sizes of actors and actions. The actors are individual, aggregate, and composite, while the actions are event, episode, and series. Using this matrix could help archaeologists to determine to what extent an action is normative or behavioral. He claims that this type of analysis is necessary due to the increased focus on individual roles in societies. After using this matrix to identify group size versus activity size, it is easier to look at variation in the organization of a settlement.

Brooks opines that archaeologists have not paid enough attention to the relationships between actors and actions in the past. In paying attention to them, behavioral patterns and their material manifestations can be better examined, as through the examples he gives of the Southwest Jefferson Archaeological Project in Kentucky, the Flint Run Paleo-Indian complex in Shenandoah River valley, Galley Pond in Illinois, and the Valley of Oaxaca studies.

In his conclusion, Brooks notes that he has not addressed the issues of procedure or interpretation in this article. He says that these issues are better left for the individual archaeologist or ethnoarchaeologist, respectively, to determine. He concludes that when events can be considered in the archaeological record and then interpreted through ethnoarchaeology, better nomotheic explanations will be achieved.

CAROLYN WATERS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Brown, Judith K. Cross- Cultural Perspectives on Middle- Aged Women. Current Anthropology, Apr., 1982. Vol. 23 (2): 143- 165.

The purpose of Judith Brown’s paper on middle- aged women in a cross-cultural perspective is to examine the discontinuity in women’s lives as they age beyond the childbearing years. The changes in lifestyle, daily chores, and responsibilities to the family between young adulthood and old age are what Brown means when she refers to the “discontinuity” in women’s lives. Although there is a lack of demographic data, especially concerning relationships between mothers and her adult children, Brown argues that women’s lives appear to improve with the onset of middle- age. Brown divides her paper into two sections, one dealing with the positives changes of middle- aged women and a second section concerning various theoretical interpretations. The reader is reminded that the idea of the “empty nest” syndrome is unique to Western cultures and that it does not appear cross culturally. A variety of ethnographic studies are used in order to prove that removal of restrictions, the ability to exert control over certain kinsmen, and achievement and recognition beyond household are all changes that occur in many socities. Restrictions placed on women due to menstruation and the consequences of sexual activities no longer apply to middle- aged women. According to Brown, women also make important decisions on the lives of their juniors, especially regarding marriages. The section on theoretical interpretations is broken down into two subsections, one dealing with the differences in magnitude of changes and the other deals with the variability of women’s experiences between societies. In this section, Brown addresses several questions. (1) Why the changes among middle- aged women in some societies are more dramatic, (2) and what accounts for these changes in all societies. Two factors are identified as being influential in the differences in magnitude, inheritance, and the relationships between spouses. The relationship between spouses is studied by the aloofness and intimacy between wives and husbands, for example in some societies spouses do not eat together, sleep together, or relax together as a result of menstruation taboos. In the later part of the theoretical discussion, Brown addresses the question of why middle- age brings fewer restrictions, increased authority over kinsmen, and greater opportunity for achievement outside the household. Four different theories, she suggests, are (1) personality development, (2) parental investment and reproductive success, (3) parenting behavior and species survival, (4) and the relationship with adult children. For each theoretical position, Brown gives examples of various theorists and their suggestions on the reasons behind the changes that occur in the lives of middle-aged women. Brown agrees that physiological aspects of middle age, the four theories presented in her paper, provide a partial explanation, but additional explanations are needed. Brown concludes by restating her thesis that the degrees of discontinuity can be accounted for by variations in the rules of inheritance as well as by variations in the separateness of the sexes in daily life.


Although most of the nine commentators praised Brown’s work, she did receive some criticism and suggestions for future research. Several peers (Freed, Anderson, and Counts) stated that Brown should further develop the definition of middle-aged women. Dougherty thought that Brown should examine the role discontinuity among women who are not mothers in order to fully test her hypothesis. It was also suggested by Fennell and Vatuk, that the author should examine other relevant variables, such as employment, status in the community, and poverty levels. A concern that many of the commentators held was that in studies such as these, it is imperative to make sure we (westerners) do not project our cultural norms onto other groups, that is we should not make western assumptions concerning appropriate sex roles. Many of her peers commended her work on the grounds that she was doing research and writing that would capture a woman’s perspective. One reviewer, Jacobs, stated that Brown’s paper was the first attempt to research and assert male- female hierarchy arrangements are not uniform in all cultures throughout adulthood, and commended her paper for its organization and content, but it and theoretical discussion. Brown’s work is an important beginning for intensive hologeistic research in this area.


Brown acknowledges that her definition of middle-aged women is incomplete and needs to be further developed. She also recognizes the importance of investigating the roles of older childless women, in order to better test her hypothesis. She states that she is grateful to the commentators who have filled in the gaps of her paper with facts from their own knowledge. Brown addresses Anderson and Datan’s concept of “rest” among older women, and replies by saying that in order to “rest”, these women must delegate their work to younger women. She also responds to Gutmann’s opinion concerning her over emphasis on the importance of food. Brown states that although provisioning in western culture is not very important, among other cultures it is vitally important. In a cross-cultural context, the production of food is much more demanding and therefore the reliance on the mother is greater. Hence, the importance of older women in the food distribution and the supervision of its preparation suggest real power.

LESLEY ELLEFSON Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Brown, Judith K. Cross-cultural Perspectives on Middle-aged Women. Current Anthropology, April 1982 Vol. 23: 143-155.

Judith Brown offers a near-unprecedented discussion of the role of middle-aged women in society. She writes this article in face of a lack of demographic data, as well as a troubling problem of how to approach or define this period in women’s lives – defining middle-aged women as mothers who are not elders but who have fully grown offspring She uses the ethnographic work and data of Bart, Griffen, Kaufert, Kerns, and her own previous work to arrive at these more generalized findings about “middle-aged women.” Through analyzation of these works, she explains that the data available unanimously shows an improvement in women’s lives with the advent of middle age.

The author lists numerous positive changes in women’s lives which coincide with middle age. It is found that middle age brings fewer restrictions in women’s behavior, perhaps because menstrual customs and taboos no longer apply, and because of the cessation of the threat of pregnancy, women’s sexuality and subservience to men is freed. Women are less tied to place; with fewer societal and child-rearing restrictions, they are free to travel, trade, and partake in previously inconceivable activities. Middle-aged women also enjoy a unique neutrality in political and some gender situations. Women profit a great deal from the transition from wife/mother to mother-in-law. They earn kind treatment from their older children, and the graduation to positions of more control and respect within the household. They control the divisions of labor within their family’s sphere, as well as control of assets, especially food, which is often a powerful control. Finally, upon reaching middle age, they may become eligible for increased achievement and recognition, allowed greater roles in important ceremonies and spirituality, as well as perhaps taking on a new, auspicious profession (such as midwifery, holy-woman, etc.).

The changed role of the middle-aged woman in society, Brown argues, does not fit easily into any existing theoretical framework. In relation to the varying levels of change in status during middle-age, Brown cites “aspects of inheritance,” arguing that her age qualifies her as someone to be inherited from, according more status, as well as “relations between spouses” marking a freeing change in gender relations. In seeking explanations for this “discontinuity” in women’s lives, Brown incites a psychoanalytic and discussion suggesting the personal development of women as effecting this change, as well as a sociobiological explanation for the survival of women in a different role past their reproductive years (further here, Brown also discusses evolution in relation to the issue).

The comments consisted largely of praise for Brown’s work in a previously seldom-explored area and for original research and ideas. Criticisms, however, included a request for a broader use of ethnographic examples, more thorough explanation of the concepts, the need to break out of analyzing women within the contexts of the mother-child relationship, criticism of her older-child-parent bond theory as well as her incorporation of psychoanalysis and sociobilogy, and a demand for drawing out the implications of this work in further study.

The majority of Brown’s response is a recap of her original ideas as well as specific comments to specific authors. She agrees that she could incorporate more aspects into her definition and analysis of middle-aged women’s lives. She also upon request explores the possibility of women’s improved middle-aged status as an asexual one. She thanks commentors for enriching her factual inadequacies, as well as for their interest and demand for increased research, refocusing of the subject’s goals, and the prediction of the implications and practical applications of the study.

KJERSTIN GURDA Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Hartung, John. Polygyny and Inheritance of Wealth. Current Anthropology, 1982. 23(1):1-12.

Hartung is testing the hypothesis that in polygynous societies, male offspring are more likely to inherit wealth. His hypothesis stems from Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the individual’s innate goal to increase transmission of genes and culture through high fitness. Hartung bases his argument on the presumption that human polygyny can be defined as resource-defense polygyny. By resource-defense polygyny, he means that the more wealth or status an individual has, the more wives/mates the individual has access to. Using Murdock’s Ethnographic Atlas he attempts to demonstrate that human polygyny is resource-defense polygyny through correlations between 850 societies that practice both polygyny and bride prices. Hartung also uses resource-defense polygyny to explain father/son conflict as exhibited in Freud’s Oedipus complex. He hypothesizes that the complex stems from sexual competition between the father and the son, not over the mother, but rather over which family member will be the resource-defense polygynist. Hartung argues that every successful male consequently has a highly successful mother who has an extraordinary number of grandchildren. This is how females indirectly gain reproductive success in polygynous societies. Mothers favor their sons receiving inheritances because inheriting wealth improves the male offspring’s’ chances of finding additional mates. This enhances reproductive fitness of both mother and son.

Hartung emphasizes the importance of culture transmittance in conveying instructions down family lines. Culture, like genes, is successful if it increases its transmitters reproductive success. He also states that unlike genes, culture can be transmitted along lateral lines to individuals of the same generation. Therefore it can spread either quickly or slowly. This flexibility means that its followers are subject to faster rates of evolution or disappearance of culture.


A common problem the commentators have with Hartung’s article is his use of the term resource-defense polygyny. Some commentators think Hartung needs to clarify his definition of resource-defense polygyny. Others see it as an inexact metaphor for human economic decision-making. The original definition by Emlen and Oring refers to patchy environments and females choosing males who occupied superior-quality territory as opposed to poorer-quality territory. Another problem commentators have is that Hartung’s data are drawn primarily from the Ethnographic Atlas. They believe Hartung’s correlations only show a relationship whereas actual conclusive arguments can be better supported from in-depth analysis of relevant societies.


Hartung’s reply to commentators is very brief. He thanks his commentators for their comments and agrees that he should have coined a new term/phrase instead of using “resource-defense polygyny,” thereby causing more confusion than clarity.

ELIZABETH LANGENFELD Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Hartung, John. Polygyny and Inheritance of Wealth. Current Anthropology February, 1982 Vol.23(1):1-12.

In this article, John Hartung uses cross-cultural data to confirm the hypothesis that polygyny in the human species is resource polygyny and that parents pass wealth on to their sons when doing so would increase the likelihood of his marrying multiple women. Hartung relies heavily on behavioral biology in his argument, basing it upon the assumption that the ways in which humans act result from the influence of those behaviors that provided reproductive success to their ancestors. Hartung also includes a reanalysis of Freud’s “Oedipus complex” in which he posits that this complex results from sexual competition between father and son over which will be a resource-defense polygynist. Throughout the article, Hartung uses a number of visual models to support his most salient points.

Hartung begins by tracing the origins of the hypothesis to Darwin’s work and the fact that in polygynous societies, those men who can afford to do so attain numerous wives. He refers to his own earlier work and argues that, while a male can achieve great reproductive success by impregnating many females, a female can only be impregnated approximately once per year, no matter the number of mates she has. Thus, since material wealth plays an important role in obtaining multiple wives in polygynous societies,

“a variance in male reproductive success is not simply a reflection of genetic variance within the sex, but is due in part to extraneous variables such as nongenetically determined resource status. It follows that ancestors (both male and female) would maximize the reproductive-success value of their transferable wealth by leaving it to offspring of the sex upon which it has the highest probability of having the largest positive effect – usually males” (Hartung 1977:336).

Hartung describes the phenomenon in another way: “[If] a set of parents left wealth to a son who could thereby afford an additional wife, that inheritance would, on average, increase their number of grandchildren more than if it were left to a daughter who was thereby able to gain an additional husband” (1). Nevertheless, Hartung concedes that this view ought not to imply that parents consciously act accordingly so as to boost long-range reproductive success. In connection with this discussion, Hartung extensively discusses the conception of bride-price.

Hartung explains, “Like genes, culture is a mechanism that transmits instructions down family lines” (5). Regardless of the fact that most cultural differences arise from learned (rather than inherited) behavior, “if one culturally transmitted behavior causes its bearers/transmitters to have higher reproductive success than another, it will increase in frequency” (5). Natural selection, Hartung argues, does not guarantee any degree of reproductive success, but rather makes certain that its offspring have had such success in the past. Thus, while the process of natural selection does not itself possess “foresight” it can and does push the evolution of organisms that do. Hartung thus concludes, expressing his personal objective “that investigating the influence of natural selection on our cultural legacy will facilitate changing it when major discrepancies exist between human nature as we would like it to be and human nature as we find it” (6).

In their responses to this article, the commentators (Mildred Dickemann, Umberto Melotti, Leopold Pospisil, Eugenie C. Scott, John Maynard Smith, and William D. Wilder) raise a number of interesting points. A number of commentators were critical of the methodology employed by Hartung in his argument and question some of the causal relationships implicit in his argument. Scott critiques his use of the term “resource-defense polygyny,” since he argues that it does not sufficiently characterize the “economic basis which … underlies mate selection in humans” (10).

Hartung responds very briefly (in only two sentences) to his commentators. He acknowledges, in accordance with Scott, that new vocabulary is necessary in place of “overextending” the phrase “resource-defense polygyny” (11).

EMILY SAUER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura).

Johnson, Allen Reductionism in Cultural Ecology: The Amazon Case. Current Anthropology Vol. 23, No. 4, Aug. 1982

In this article, Johnson discusses how various elements of ecology influence native lowland South American cultures, while defending his belief that the most effective way to understand this process is through synthesizing structural and ecological perspectives, and to avoid the polarization that often occurs around them. He also defends the idea of reductionism, an idea that the structuralists accuse ecologists of and discredit their work for.

Johnson refers to the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon in his effort to illustrate how he believes that structuralism and ecological perspectives can be effectively combined. In his evaluation of the Machiguenga, Johnson finds that their perception of what constitutes acceptable land and resources is highly selective and discriminatory. The Machiguenga base their lives around the resources that allow them to enjoy what they perceive to be an acceptable quality of life. Therefore they adapt their behaviors around the resources they wish to exploit. These behaviors are translated into behavioral choices that are encoded into structural elements such as firewood and soil categorization as well as a variety of fishing techniques that allow them flexibility in changing conditions. However, due to their highly selective nature, Johnson argues that what the Machiguenga consider to be scarce resource conditions often does not correlate with what many anthropologists would universally consider as such. He mentions that government intervention has isolated the Machiguenga to a specific area, this has led to resource depletion and stressful conditions within the village.


Johnson admits that the structuralists are right in their assessment that ecological research is often reductionistic in its attempt to explain cultural phenomenon. However, he claims that the structuralists’ preference for holism, which seeks to explain the whole as such, is a no more valid approach. He explains that holism is also prone to the possibility of infinite egress toward higher-order wholes. Johnson explains the concept of “tacking” by which an anthropologist separates from their pure view and considers the open spaces where other approaches may apply. To strike an effective balance Johnson contends that it would be effective to remain primarily focused on one theory, for example ecological, but remain cognizant of another theory, such as structural, in order to see a different angle.

Johnson concludes that individuals are constantly evaluating structural categories and understandings that are relevant and applicable to their particular circumstances, and these categories and understandings refer to measurable attributes of the world, such as ecologically relevant conditions. This evaluation helps them to make proper decisions concerning significant processes in their life. He explains that the researcher may choose to emphasize the structural framework, the decision process, or the ecological imperatives, but should not eliminate any one of them in their research as a basic understanding of their relationships with each other is essential to reveal the whole picture.


Johnson received commentary from eleven anthropologists regarding his article. The nature of the responses varied. Some were positive and in agreement with his contentions, such as that of Steve Brian Burhalter who affirmed that Johnson’s research and stance on reductionism was very much in accord with his own observations concerning the Machinguenga. Others were disapproving and critical, as was the opinion of Paul Diener who criticized Johnson’s multi-perspective approach as being biased and not fair in its assessment of the various perspectives. Many of the responses remained relatively neutral, finding merits to his approach and adding their own takes on the theories.


Johnson addresses the anthropologists’ responses by defending his criticisms and affirming his agreements. He mentions his agreement with Olga Linares on the idea that cultural ecology should refer to an approach that admits both ecological and structural analyses without reducing one entirely to the other. He also defends and justifies his suggested approach to understanding cultural ecology that includes consideration of three sides (ecological, structural, and economic), a point that was challenged by Eric Ross. He also defends the cultural ecologists’ continual attempts to explain the elements of culture with reference to the basic fulfillment of needs because, he contends, it is the only approach that doesn’t lose sight of the focus of its explanations.

JESSICA BELL (Marquette University) Jane Peterson

Johnson, Allen. Reductionism in Cultural Ecology: The Amazon Case. Current Anthropology, August, 1982 Vol. 23 (4): 413-426.

At the time this article was written, several disagreements were underway that concerned the degree to which aboriginal cultures of lowland South Americans have been influenced by ecology. The disputes mainly centered on the extent to which resource scarcity and the resulting competition between groups might account for major societal features of Amazonian communities such as patterns of resettlement, population size, and patterns of warfare. According to the article’s author, the issue became quite divisive between the anthropologists who link these societal features directly to ecological factors and those who explain such features through the community’s cultural values – ecologists and structuralists, respectively. In particular, structuralists criticized ecologists for being reductionist, arguing that the societal features of Amazonian groups are far too interrelated and complex to be explained through ecology alone.

Johnson’s main objective in the article is to discredit the conflation of ecology and severe reductionism and to advocate for the resolution of such disputes. While the author claims that moderate reductionism is a natural part of science, he asserts that this approach alone is not enough for a deep understanding of Amazonian cultures. Thus, in the following analysis, Johnson draws on both ecological and structural approaches – demonstrating how they can be used harmoniously – with the aim of proving that ecological factors have an impact on societal features of a population. In other words, the author focuses both on how communities understand their circumstances as well as on the quantitative measures that correspond to these understandings, demonstrating the correlation between these approaches. Johnson hopes that this effort will lead to increased collaboration between the structuralist and ecologist positions in general.

The data are drawn from the author’s research of the Machiguenga, an aboriginal group of slash-and-burn horticulturalists that dwells in the tropical rainforest of Peru. While Johnson does not directly describe his data sources or methodology (instead referring to prior work for this information) he offers a substantial amount of primary ethnographic evidence on the Machiguenga as well as quantitative data on the population’s nutrition. The author’s argument is constructed through an analysis of three examples of perceived resource scarcity – soil quality, protein, and firewood – that are representative of structural understandings but are also assessable in terms of ecological criteria. Thus, he explains why Machiguenga villages move – proving that resource scarcity exists in the perceptions of the Machiguenga despite apparent abundance – by drawing on a structural perspective while grounding his argument in ecological data.

This article elicits mixed reviews. While most of the respondents applaud Johnson’s attempt to increase understanding between these two polarized perspectives, other comments serve to simply rearticulate the arguments from the same old debate. In fact, apart from the positive reviews, the reply section offers a brief display of several of the dispute’s main arguments. Aside from this, a couple of respondents question Johnson’s explanation of who is actually involved in the dispute; one respondent offers alternate labels for those involved; he suggests “human ecologists” and “cultural ecologists” rather than “cultural ecologists” and “structuralists.”

In his reply, Johnson points out those reviewers who have fallen back into the old trap of increasing polarization between structuralists and ecologists. Additionally, he reiterates the differences between the structuralist and ecological perspectives and emphasizes the possibilities of correspondence between the two approaches.

LAURA MOENCH Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Kennedy, Allison Bailey. Ecco Bufo: The Toad in Nature and in Olmec Iconography.Current Anthropology, 1982 23(3):273-290.

This article, “Ecco Bufo: The Toad in Nature and in Olmec Iconography,” was printed in the June, 1982 issue of Current Anthropology. This special issue featured prizewinning papers from the XLIII International Congress of Americanists. In this article, Kennedy begins by concentrating on the mystery that has been always been associated with the Olmec civilization, and more specifically, their art. She explains that anthropologists have normally seen the Olmec as an extremely difficult puzzle to solve, they are treated like a tiger ready to pounce that no one wants to approach. Finally it was hypothesized that the Olmec and their art are connected to the jaguar. It was theorized that the Olmec believed that they were descendents of a jaguar and an Olmec woman.

However, in disagreement with this theory, Kennedy argues that nobody ever really took the time to closely investigate their art in relation to the alleged jaguar. Kennedy feels that what has long been interpreted as a jaguar in Olmec art, actually represents a toad. She goes on to give many examples of how their art symbolizes the toad physically and metaphorically. In addition, she provides many pictures that show how the art may really be portraying a toad.

First, she states that “cleft brow” which has been said to be deterministic feature of Olmec iconography is considered to be a symbol of fertility, an aspect of life held in high regard by the Olmec. Kennedy goes on to explain how the toad and its way of life, in many ways, compares to the many stages of human life. Toad features such as spread legs, the tongue, and toothless gums translate to mean human words or situations. For example, the word for an up-ended frog’s head is interpreted “to be born.” In addition, the Olmec saw the toad as a representation of renewal. The manner in which the toad sheds is the best depiction of this. The toad continually sheds then ingests its skin. As the toad eats the skin it, the skin of the legs is the last to be ingested, and Kennedy states that it is very likely that this image could actually be what is mistaken for the fangs of the jaguar.

Following this, Kennedy goes on to discuss an experiment done to determine the taste of tadpoles. It is uncertain whether or not it was likely that the frogs ever would have been included in the diet of the Olmec or if they may have been used for hallucinogenic purposes. There are many theories surrounding this, but Kennedy states that the answer can be found in Olmec art, specifically in jade work. There are many examples of jade spoons fashioned to look like tadpoles that appear to function in as dehydration or separating vessels to get rid of poisonous substances. Plus, it is thought that the presence of the duck in Olmec iconography parallels the notion that ducks ate the toads and then the Olmec ate the duck, thus reaping the hallucinogenic properties of the toads without experiencing the poisonous qualities. (Kennedy explains that this phenomena is present is other relationships in nature as well.)

In conclusion, it is difficult to determine the exact meaning of Olmec art due to the lack of any extensive Olmec literature, but it is not impossible. Kennedy feels that it is very likely that the Olmec were portraying the toad in their iconography due to the fact that they lived in such close ties with the nature and the toad is a common presence there, but it is obvious that more research is required.

AMANDA SUCHARDA Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Lewis-Williams, J.D. The Economic and Social Context of Southern San Rock Art. Current Anthropology August, 1982 Vol. 23 (4): 429- 449.

Lewis-Williams is concerned with interpreting the function of ritual behavior in a wider socioeconomic context; his overlying theory is that societal infrastructure is key in understanding ideology. He begins by stating that innatism and functionalism, the two current theories on the meaning of rock art painted by the southern San of southern Africa, are insufficient. The innatist position holds that the San paint merely as a form of expression, an inherent artistic disposition present in the culture. Lewis-Williams argues that the lack of research and data to back up this claim invalidates it. Functionalism posits that the ritual of painting helps to maintain social cohesion among the group, but the author states that though the ritual may have that effect, it is not a cause of the art.

Lewis-Williams then goes on to formulate his own theory, relying on historic data collected on the southern San and cross-referencing it with data from modern ethnographic studies. He first gives a background of the environment of the San, as well as the structure of their society. They are egalitarian, living in small, dispersed camps prone to migration dependent upon the availability of game, vegetation and especially waterholes. He then focuses on the important role of medicine men in the society of resolving environmental and social tensions like scarcity of resources. Furthermore, he comments on the importance of the eland (a type of antelope) in San spirituality. Much of the medicine man’s dance imitates the moves of the dying animal after a hunter has shot it. Many of the rock paintings, he maintains, are artistic representations of the same ritual beliefs expressed in dance.

The author goes on to describe the significance of widespread kin relationships governing access to waterholes. He states that trances undergone by medicine men, in which they spiritually visit distant camps, serve to remind the rest of the group of their relationship with the other group and, therefore, help to maintain access to their waterholes. These trances are, he believes, also represented in some rock paintings. In summary, Lewis-Williams emphasizes that the paintings are full of ritualistic meaning, and are not just artistic expressions. He also believes they were conscious representations of ritual behavior that played an important role in San culture and economy.


Patricia N Bardill appreciates the challenge to the old theories made by Lewis-Williams, but states that much of his work is only speculative and lacking in data. Biesele and Yearwood laud Lewis-Williams’ rejection of functionalism and innatism. Clegg finds that Lewis-Williams has found a “best fit” in his theory, but wonders if it is the truest fit. Groenfeldt objects to the Lewis-Williams’ claim to the importance of the paintings in maintaining social systems, pointing out that some Kalahari San groups have similar systems without painting. He furthermore objects to Lewis-Williams’ rejection of functionalism and innatism, calling the author’s own approach “megafunctionalism,” and asserting the importance of aesthetics.


Lewis-Williams begins his response by claiming that he is neither anti-function nor anti-aesthetic. He goes on to ask that objections to the connection between ideology and infrastructure be backed up by evidence and alternative interpretation on the rock art. He admits that he is unable to explain the significance of the paintings’ locations, and that his economic model does not explain the San choice of eland as ritual animal, when eland are not the only game animal. He ends by agreeing with a majority of commentators that further debate and research is needed to rightly interpret the meaning and function of prehistoric art.

ADRIANNE DAGGETT Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Littlefield, Alice, Leonard Lieberman, Larry T. Reynolds. Redefining Race: The Potential Demise of a Concept in Physical Anthropology. Current Anthropology December 1982, Vol. 23 (6): 641-655.

Littlefield, Lieberman, and Reynolds argue that the increasing diversity of faculty and students at institutions of higher education has led to a de-emphasis of biological race concept. Institutional relations, university programs and professors have all had a great influence upon concepts dealing with race, but they have also been especially influential in the context of textbooks.

The authors describe the procedure used to test their thesis. Fifty- eight textbooks were selected based on three criteria: (1) that they were used in an introductory physical anthropology course, (2) had one chapter dedicated to physical anthropology, (3) and that they were not an anthologies. A group of undergraduate students were given sections of the textbooks to read and they were to place the book into one of four categories based on how the author expressed the concept of race. The four categories were as follows: (1) race exists, (2) races do not exist, (3) author seems contradictory or noncommittal, (4) or race is not mentioned. Of the twenty books that were published between 1932 and 1969, thirteen (65%) accepted that race does exist. Only three rejected the race concept, two texts did not mention the concept of race, and in two cases the panel was unable to reach agreement of the text’s classification. However, after 1970 a dramatic change occurred, of the thirty-eight books that were looked at, only twelve authors (31%) supported the existence of racial categories and fourteen (37%) did not. The remaining twelve post 1970 textbooks did not mention race or the author seemed contradictory or noncommittal.

The rest of the article consists of the authors’ interpretation of their findings. They state that the data supports the thesis that anthropological views are influenced by society at large and, specifically that the increasing diversity of faculty and student body of higher educational institutions led to the shifts in textbooks in the treatment of race.

The authors proceed to give a brief history of the importance of American Anthropological movements and how the idea of race in anthropology has changed. For example, up until the 1960s there were a limited number of PhD programs in Anthropology. After the 1960s, however, more programs were established throughout the country, thus including students from a wider variety of soci-economic backgrounds. Statistical data showing the increasing PhD programs is included in the text, however only the percentages of minorities in anthropology programs in 1981 were included. The increased variety of both students and professors resulted in an expansion of ideas that were taught and discussed. The authors conclude by stating that the rapid expansion of anthropology and higher education during the 1960s and 1970s had a greater role than scientific discoveries, in the increased use of the “no- race” view in physical anthropology textbooks.


Of the twelve commentators that read this article, the majority of them did not agree with the authors’ argument that more diverse faculty and student body have been the most important variable in how the concept of race has been viewed. Brace and Kelso stated that the authors did not give enough attention to the importance of biological theory and Darwin’s influence on the evolutionary theory. Rose and Livingstone also thought that the advancements in the field of genetics had played a greater role than socio-cultural factors in how race has been defined among physical anthropologists. Beals and Garn both suggested that in science, overall, there has been a decrease in the importance of taxonomic categories. Moreover, this decreased importance has been more influential than what the authors claim. Although Jensen commented on the fact that science should be objective and not influenced by culture, Wolfe stated that the authors gave adequate proof that culture does influence scientific thought. Wolfe, however, does not believe the authors have defined race well enough; instead they used broad categories in reference to race. For example, some physical anthropologists define race as a breeding population, while other physical anthropologists who use the race concept do so with the idea that a racial group has pre-historical/historical continuity. Gloor and Laska-Mierzejewska, remarked that whether or not we use the term “race”, sociological problems derived from racial categorization will not go away. Recognizing differences among races, however, should not equate a value judgment and nor should it be used for the justification of slaver and imperialism.


The authors agree with Garn that physical anthropologists have become less concerned with taxonomy, but then present the question of why they have lost that interest. They also agree with Beals, Brace, Kelso, and Livingstone that internal developments within science have had an influence on changes in the presentation of race as a biologically valid category. However, they maintain that these changes have not been as influential as those within academic institutions. In response to Jensen’s comment, the authors point out that he is unconscious of the socio-cultural influences and wrongly trusts that scientific inquiry is a neutral or objective activity. Scientists are part of a larger community; they take their influences with them into the laboratory, field, and classroom. The most important criticism they received, according to the authors, was Wolfe’s concerning the broad categories. They agree with Wolfe’s comment, but point out that many of the commentators also use the term in a variety of ways, which shows the confusion that exists in anthropology as a whole.

LESLEY ELLEFSON Marquette University (Dr. Peterson).

Littlefield, Alice, Leonard Lieberman, Larry T. Reynolds. Redefining Race: The Potential Demise of a Concept in Physical Anthropology. Current Anthropology, December, 1982 Vol. 23 (6): 641-654.

In this article, the authors examine the decline in popularity of the race concept within the field of physical anthropology. According to Littlefield et al., the ongoing debates surrounding this concept have undergone three distinct phases in the scientific world. In the first phase of the debate, scientists argued over whether races had one origin or several. The second was characterized by a debate over whether or not the various racial groups of Homo sapiens could be considered equal. Finally, the concept of race itself was deconstructed, with many anthropologists declaring it scientifically useless. Physical anthropologists separated into those who still considered race a useful concept, called “splitters,” and those who didn’t, who were called “lumpers.”

It is this final phase of the grand “race debate” on which the authors focus. The race concept was first challenged in American physical anthropology in 1942 by Ashley Montagu, who pursued this argument independently for the next 20 years. While the new approach really only began to engender discussion in anthropology circles in the 1960s, it was generally omitted from textbooks until the 1970s. By the end of the decade, however, the expressed views on race in published textbooks had generally made a swift transition from a “splitter” (e.g. Coon, Garn, Birdsell, and Dobzahnsky) to either a noncommittal perspective or a “lumper” perspective (e.g. Montagu, Livingstone and Brace). In the article in question, the authors explore this late but swift shift in the treatment of race in anthropology textbooks.

Efforts to analyze this phenomenon motivated Littlefield et al. to undertake a study of a range of introductory-level textbooks of physical anthropology that were published from 1932-1979. Each of the 58 textbooks was independently evaluated by a panel of undergraduates, and classified as according to the authors’ expressed views on race. Additionally, the Littlefield et al. analyze secondary data gleaned from other studies to address their main question. These data include surveys comparing sociocultural backgrounds with positions on the race debate.

Based heavily on the secondary data presented in this article, Littlefield et al. come to some straightforward conclusions. The dramatic change in the treatment of race in undergraduate-level textbooks in the 1970s was due to the concurrent rapid expansion of the field of anthropology, and two important transformations that accompanied this expansion: a) the transition of anthropology from elite institutions to “mass” institutions, and b) the mass entry into the field of anthropology of individuals from less privileged sociocultural backgrounds.

Many of the respondents to the article express disagreement with the authors’ conclusions that the demonstrated change can be traced to institutional factors. Beals, Brace, Kelso, and Livingstone assert that research within the natural sciences and the accumulation of data is a better explanation for the shift. Others agree with Littlefield et al.’s conclusions, but cite various other causal factors as being more important.

Littlefield et al. express their disagreement with the commentators in their reply. They systematically discuss many of the respondents’ suggestions and explain why they perceive them as insufficient explanations. For example, Littlefield et al. agree that science contributed to the observed change, but does not explain why it happened when it did. Finally, they use the respondents’ comments to support their theory that people are generally unaware of the sociocultural factors that influence them, thus finishing their reply with an assertion of their original claims.

LAURA MOENCH Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Majumder, Partha P. and Roy, J. Distribution of ABO Blood Groups on the Indian Subcontinent: A Cluster-Analytic Approach. Current Anthropology, October 1982. Vol.23(5): 529-565.

Majumder and Roy investigate the distribution of ABO blood groups on the Indian Subcontinent and the extent to which these genetic population groups differ with respect to geographical and socioreligious variables. The authors attempt to establish whether or not ABO gene frequencies are homogenous with respect to geographic and socioreligious classification (Ex. Hindu Upper Caste, Muslim, etc.), as well as whether these respective differences are due to chance fluctuations or can be proven to be statistically significant. To test for these resemblances, Majumder and Roy employ a technique known as cluster-analysis. To fully understand the extent of this data, it is important to give a brief overview of this technique.

In this empirical study, cluster-analysis techniques were used to identify three levels of genetic groupings. ABO blood frequencies were analyzed for those groups that fell in the same geographic and socioreligious regions in respect to these ABO blood frequencies and those that did not. Those that displayed considerable differences among population groups went through cluster analysis and formed nonoverlapping clusters, which, within themselves, were statistically homogenous. These clusters, homogenous in respect to geographic locale, socioreligious criteria, and gene frequencies were dubbed rational homogenous clusters (RHCs). These RHCs were then analyzed to form larger groupings called “superclusters”. Superclusters were not necessarily homogenous in relation to geographical location or socioreligious criteria. The third application of cluster-analysis yielded a final tree structure describing the resemblances between each of these superclusters.

After lengthy analysis of 405 data sets, Majumder and Roy concluded that there is great similarity within geographic zones and socioreligious categories with respect to gene frequency. For instance, the Hindu Upper Caste of the Central Zone was particularly homogenous in terms of A, B, and O gene frequencies as they stood on their own as a distinct supercluster. The same goes for the Hindu Middle Caste of this zone as well as the Muslims of both the Central and Northern zones. Upon complete evaluation, it was found that all superclusters, and RHCs therein, indicated high levels of similarities between particular gene frequencies to certain geographic regions and socioreligious groups.

However, Majumder and Roy do admit that there are some populations that do not fit this general claim. Socioreligious groups consisting of Tribal Mongoloid, Negrito, and Caucasoid populations were highly variable and seemed to intermingle with surrounding geographic regions of the same socioreligious influence. At last, Majumder and Roy recognize the possibility of error for, or course, there are many uncertainties in using statistical inference. But after lengthy analysis using a “cluster” approach, much was learned about the distribution of ABO blood groups and their relationships between geographic area and socioreligious criteria.


The commentators commend Majumder and Roy on their comprehensive and full compilation of ABO gene frequency in the Indian Subcontinent. Many also agree with their method of interpretation, stating that a “cluster” approach provides many worthwhile correlations to socio-geographic criteria as well as other relationships to different populations around the world. However, they are modestly criticized for continually overstating the similarities of these ABO blood groups because they: (1) use a common selective history at only one locus (the ABO blood locus), and (2) because only six geographical loci are used in determining phylogenetic relationships.


In their reply, Majumder and Roy comment on their main point of criticism: the use of only a single gene locus when using the cluster-analytic approach. While agreeing with their contemporaries that an increase in the number of loci directly improves statistical inferences used in the cluster-analytic approach, they believe that the single locus analysis is not always useless. They also attribute their choosing of a single locus to problems arising in data availability and the constraints it had on giving a complete evaluation of Indian Subcontinent gene relationships.

Another rebuttal to choosing a single locus was that with the increase in number of loci-even by one- would drastically reduce the number of populations that can accurately be studied and compared. This problem would’ve had a profound and severe affect on the Indian Subcontinent.

ADAM FIEBELKORN Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Marano, Lou. Windigo Psychosis: The Anatomy of an Emic-Etic Confusion. Current Anthropology, Aug., 1982. Vol. 23(4): 385-412.

The windigo is a cultural phenomenon appearing in various Native American groups, including the Northern Algonkian, the people discussed by Marano in this article. There are several types of windigo: the first is a supernatural monster associated with windstorms, uprooted trees and various other displays of rage. The second category applies to a person who may or may not have been possessed by the spirit of the windigo and driven to cannibalistic insanity as a result. The third group refers to a culture-specific psychotic syndrome in which the victims are compulsively driven to eat human flesh. Marano says that the first two categories are part of Algonkian culture and myth, while the third category is essentially the child of 20th century anthropologists. In this article, Marano tries to explain and analyze the evolution of the third category, using his own fieldwork with Algonkian people, specifically the Northern Ojibwa and Cree tribes, as well as the writings of others on the subject.

Marano writes that during the 1970’s among the Northern Ojibwa people individuals who were overcome with grief or worry were described as “almost turning to windigo”. The stress these individuals were under was starting to turn them into a windigo, but the afflicted individuals in these cases, and similar cases in earlier times, recovered over time. Marano goes on to say that other cases of reported windigo psychosis are the result of Algonkian peoples using windigo to describe any type of psychological dysfunction, and also using it as a justification for killing undesirable individuals, as people who had become windigo were subject to execution. In his study of windigo cases, cannibalism happened in only one case, and this case happened under starvation conditions. Marano notes that the only times that cannibalism actually occurred were when survival necessitated it. After these incidents, those who had survived by partaking in cannibalism were sometimes described having a craving for human flesh, although this was probably the result of stories told by those who had not been through the starvation situation. Marano describes the people who had not been through the starvation situation as potentially wary of those who had, as those individuals may seem to have a lower threshold for breaking the cannibalism taboo in subsequent starvation events. Marano argues that contrary to the opinions expressed by others, the Algonkian have no special cultural predisposition towards cannibalism. Cannibalism is only resorted to in survival situations, which is a universal trait, as demonstrated by incidents like the case of the Donner Party. Windigo, meanwhile, is the term that is used to describe any sort of psychosis, and cannibalism is a trait often attributed to these individuals, although actual incidents of cannibalism are nonexistent.


Some who commented on Marano’s paper felt that his was an important addition to the literature on the subject, and shines light on the confusion between the reports given by those in Algonkian society and the picture given by court records and other outside sources. They would agree with his concept of the windigo in Algonkian life, and agree with his analysis of the situation. Others oppose his viewpoint, notably Bishop and Waisberg, who both cite the case of a woman who became cannibalistic during a time when other food sources were present. Waisberg argues that given this and other cases, one should not rule out the possibility of actual non-starvation cannibalism cases figuring into Algonkian beliefs about windigo, and that cases of cannibalism resembling those in the windigo myths do actually exist.


Marano replies to his commentators by reinforcing his conclusions, most notably, his conclusion that windigo psychosis is not some distinct trait among the Algonkian people, but rather a combination between the myths of people and their justifications for killing certain members of society, and the misinterpretations of these stories made by 20th century anthropologists.

JAMES BURCH Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Marano, Lou. Windigo Psychosis: The Anatomy of an Emic-Etic Confusion. Current Anthropology August, 1982 Vol.23(4):385-412.

The article addresses the issue of emic and etic perspectives and their confusion in the field of anthropology. Anthropologists strive to understand communities from an emic, or mental, perspective; however, many have confused these emics with an etic, or behavioral, perspective.

Marano argues that anthropologists have confused the emics with the etics of the windigo psychosis, a cultural trait of the Northern Algonkian people. The author rejects the commonly held notion by anthropologists that windigo is an obsessive cannibalistic psychosis, noting that there is no evidence for its etic/behavioral existence. Instead, he suggests that windigo among the Northern Algonkian is a manifestation of the collective witch fear that is common among other traumatized societies.

Marano constructs his argument by giving a detailed critique and review of the literature on windigo psychosis. As an introduction, he first provides a summary, mentioning that of the 70 documented “cases of windigo psychosis,” none of them offers firsthand accounts of cannibalism. After mentioning background to the literature review, Marano defines the categories of windigo. The first Windigo is a superhuman monster. The second is a person possessed by a spirit that may or may not be a cannibal monster. The third, which is the focus of the paper, is a “culture-specific syndrome” where people have the cannibalistic impulse to eat human flesh.

The rest of the article is devoted to the critique and review of literature on windigo psychosis. He uses these works as evidence to support his thesis. He divides the review into a section of works written from 1933 to 1967 and a section on works written from 1967 to 1981. He reviews various authors, pointing out several reasons why the notion of windigo psychosis is false. He criticizes their statements by noting that they lack the first hand knowledge needed to make such conclusions. Marano points out certain ideas that he agrees with, but he stresses that an emic perspective offers a different conceptualization of windigo. Unlike the anthropologists, Northern Algonkians apply windigo to cases where no cannibalism occurs. The anthropologists, Marano argues, fail to distinguish thought from behavior. He argues for an inclusive category for windigo, like Saindon, Landes, Honigmann, and Rigington suggest.

In conclusion, he compares windigo witch fear to other Native American groups. He argues that “the windigo belief complex was the Northern Algonkian manifestation of the collective witch fear that is predictable in traumatized societies, not an obsessive cannibalistic psychosis of individuals”.

The commentators generally commend Marano on his thorough review of windigo psychosis. Some of the commentators were critiqued in the Marano’s article and support their own literature. One commentator argues that Marano falsely states that a culture-specific category implies a culture-specific psychotic syndrome. Others ask for the specific behaviors that windigo psychosis now describes. Another commentator argues that Marano offers one explanatory model for windigo, not recognizing the other possibilities.

Marano responds to most of the commentators. He points out similarities he has with some of the commentator’s views, minimizing the importance and validity of the criticisms. He accuses one commentator of being reactive and attempts to show that many have perceived his article wrongly.

LAUREN GREENBERG Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Morton, Newton E; Kenett, R.; Yee, S.; and Lew, R. Bioassay of Kinship in Populations of Middle Eastern Origin and Controls. Current Anthropology, 1982. 23(2):157-167.

Morton et al. endeavored to surmise genetic structures by examining thirty-two Middle Eastern populations with respect to the HLA system. Previously, two different groups (Cavalli-Sforza and Carmelli; and Karlin, Kenett, and Bonne-Tamir) attempted to infer genetic structure from Middle Eastern populations from polymorphic gene frequencies. One group found substantial gentile admixture, whereas the other did not. Their methodology was to analyze mean and median kinship in order to examine topology, isolation by distance, admixture, and genetic demography. Each of the samples was given a coordinate and measured in kilometers from Jerusalem. From the phenotypes gathered the authors were able to create seven clusters. Four are Jewish (Ashkenazim, Sabaeans, Sephardim, Oriental Jews) and the others gentiles which span the three continents of Europe, Africa and Asia (Europeans, Mideasterners, Australs). They then examined the phenotypes recorded to construe the amount of inbreeding that occurred within the populations and found that a significant amount of gene flow occurred between neighbor populations and ethnicities. To measure isolation by distance Morton et al. used the Malécot equation and found low kinship between populations for both groups (gentiles and Jews), which means that they married within the community or consanguinial. They also used kinship information and hybridity data, along with the assumption that drift and divergence did not occur in the ancestral populations, to determine the amount of admixture that occurred within the populations. They found that as a whole the Jewish populations have a gentile admixture rate of one percent. This data is in accordance with the history that Morton et al. cite, which goes back past the Crusades. They do not estimate genetic topography for each population because of insufficient information that would leave the results too imprecise. This is a highly mathematical article. Morton et al. were writing to an audience who has substantial technical background in genetics.


Commentators generally had mixed reviews for Morton et al. The authors are criticized for their ‘forceful style’ of writing that often neglects important explanations and definitions for the reader’s sake. They are also assailed by accusations of neglecting previous research, and of using ‘dangerous’ methodology to determine admixture that could lead to invalid data being accepted as valid. Morton et al. disregard Carmelli’s and Cavalli-Sforza’s caution against attempting to derive average admixture proportions from non-homogenous proportions of admixture. Homogeneous admixture proportions are necessary because in order to reconstruct the history, or admixture, the neutral genetic makers cannot be closely linked to the strongly selected markers. Cavalli-Sforza comment upon the rather large correlation between Morton et al.’s value of N and Carmelli’s and Cavalli-Sforza’s value of Ne,of which Cavalli-Sforza’s are larger. The values were computed in different ways, with different aims and models, and it is not all too clear what Morton et al. measured. Morton et al. leave out critical information regarding their data and methodology, which makes their results virtually incomprehensible to their readers. Finally, their application of the Malecot equation is questioned because of its use of the assumption of populations that are infinite in size.


Morton et al. refute criticism of their use of Malecot’s theory for isolation by distance by stating that it has been amply demonstrated and applied to real and simulated populations. He also states the need for more reliable methods of DNA polymorphisms to determine gene frequencies and other measures that currently in their imperfect state defile admixture rates.

ELIZABETH LANGENFELD Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Morton, N.E., R. Kennett, S. Yee, and R. Lew. Bioassay of Kinship in Populations of Middle Eastern Origin and Controls. Current Anthropology April 1982 Vol. 23 No. 2: 157-167.

The question of genetic and racial purity of the Jewish diaspora has long been debated. This article examines the genetic structure of Middle Eastern populations from polymorphic gene frequencies by way of an application of kinship bioassay. Buildings on previous research, Morton et al. attempt to understand the admixture of certain populations of Middle Eastern origins, namely certain Jewish and Gentile populations. Based on 32 samples, the authors put forth their findings by examining questions of topology, isolation by distance, admixture, and genetic demography.

The authors divide the article into discussions of topology of kinship, inbreeding and hierarchal structure, isolation by distance, admixture, and historical genetics. They create a topology of kinship using matrices of median kinship and mean kinship, which, according to the authors, creates seven overlapping clusters of four Jewish groups and three gentile groups (Ashkenazic Jews, Sabean Jews, Sephardic Jews, Oriental Jews, Europeans, Mideasterners, and Australs). Through an examination of genetic heterogeneity between and among these groups, Morton et al. find that expect for the Ashkenazic Jews, the Jewish populations are more differentiated than Europeans, meaning that for example Oriental Jews are closer to European gentiles than to Sabean Jews. In relation to isolation by distance, the authors find that isolation by distance is quite similar for Jews, gentiles, and the cross-comparison. As well, the authors find that Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Sabean Jews show a great deal of gentile genetic admixture. They state that the genetic evidence for admixture between populations supports related historical evidence, specifically that Jewish populations have undergone gentile admixture at a rate of 1% per generation. They go on to discuss the historical genetics that support their findings, particularly as the data relates to genetic diseases among Jews such as Tay-Sachs, Gaucher, and Bloom’s syndrome. In their discussion, the authors relate their findings to previous studies related to genetic similarities between perceived racial groups and the extent to which these groups have experienced admixture.

The ensuing comments discuss the importance of the findings of this study as related to the field of anthropology, particularly as they relate to diseases among certain populations, but also emphasizing the arguments regarding the topic of racial admixture among Middle Eastern populations, particularly the Jewish populations. The respondents stress that though the authors state that they found substantial admixture between Jewish and gentile populations, the extent to which this admixture is unknown and is highly dependent on the population in question. The respondents also question the emphasis on genetics and blood as compared to cultural practices to explain the heterogeneity of groups.

In their reply, the authors acknowledge the importance of history and culture in determining differences between groups. However, they refer to the statistical and genetic methodologies as a means of explaining difference and admixture, and respond to certain technical criticisms regarding their methodology. The authors stress that uncertainties still remain regarding the issue of racial admixture, and advocate further research on the subject, particularly more reliable methods to detect the heterogeneity of admixture.

EMILY RACKOW Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Peoples, James G. Individual or Group Advantage? A Reinterpretation of the Maring Ritual Cycle. Current Anthropology June, 1982 Vol.23 (3): 291-310.

Peoples attempts to reconcile two different approaches to explaining the functional and advantageous results of particular behaviors: “group-advantage” and “individual-advantage.” He feels that the former does not explain why individuals adopt behaviors that benefit the group and the latter does not account for how organized groups exist in conflict with individual interests. Peoples uses Rappaport’s description of the Tsembaga Maring pig ritual to criticize the group advantage theory and offer an alternative hypothesis incorporating the “individual advantage” basis for the behavior; namely that it is to the individual’s advantage to have groups that follow ritual behavior. The cluster of five clans forms a “regional population” linked for daily living and social activity. The behavior of concern is a ritual cycle with 5-10 year periods of truce interrupted by brief outbursts of warfare with segues of feasting ritual whereby pigs are sacrificed, land is redistributed, mates are exchanged, and military alliances are strengthened.

Rappaport feels that the rituals are ultimately linked to land acquisition, but also regulate the pig population (pigs are given in sacrifice and gratitude), redistribute population, and enhance communication networks between local groups. Peoples rejects Rappaport’s assessment for two main reasons: 1) lack of evidence for the need to regulate the pig and human population, and 2) lack of explanation for the ritual’s origin.

Peoples argues that the pig ritual behavior exists as a means for local groups to compensate allies for assistance in warfare. This reciprocity, beyond simply military aid, is necessary to account for differences in group size. He also notes that the protein distribution, emphasized as resourcefulness by Rappaport, is merely a side effect of ally compensation. Because this activity does not immediately create specific advantages for individuals, Peoples identifies three mechanisms to prevent individuals from simply “free-riding”: 1) intermarriage and kin support, 2) prestige and political power, and 3) fear of witchcraft accusations. As a second explanation for the persistence of the ritual, Peoples conjectures that groups composed of many non-reciprocators have a greater chance of extinction than those with more generous individuals. This possibility thus leaves some room for the group-advantage theory, though he holds that individual-advantage should be the starting point for analysis. Finally, he provides an origin explanation, namely that these groups formed by a process of budding off into uninhabited lands. Resultant conflicts over land access created the need for allied protection.


While some saw Peoples’ model as interesting (Abrahamian), most found problems with the simplicity of his sociobiological piece, which ignores the cultural basis of socialization, values, the complexity of pig production, and the conflicts of interest between men and women (Brown, Modjeska). Clarke notes the significance of ignoring the environmental implications of the ritual. Peoples’ method comes into question by several others observing that he merely replaced group benefit precedence with self-interest (Barkow), and relied too heavily on a linear, male-dominated explanation (Dwyer). Others think that Peoples created the “free rider” problem to account for his theory (Levine) and wrongly assumed that social institutions exist to counter individualism (Modjeska). Rappaport himself agreed with Peoples, that the Maring are an example of adaptive radiation, but he holds that social conventions are not the result of individual competition, but rather measures to constrain such behavior. He also rejected Peoples’ use of a “cost benefit” analysis of human rationality to explain the decision to participate in the Maring ritual.


Peoples refutes the assertion that he rejected group interests as a basis for the activities. Moreover, he points out his aim to show how the cycle is best related to a hostile social environment rather than environmental constraints. He concedes that Levine is correct that a public-good dilemma need not exist, but, Peoples states, only if there exists an equilibrium amount of cooperation in the group. Peoples notes an important difference between himself and Rappaport–Peoples emphasized the reciprocity function of the rituals as a central role, whereas Rappaport makes it secondary. Peoples also defends his use of cost-benefit analysis as one of the few feasible approximations that does indeed occur throughout all societies. Finally, Peoples points out that individuals may recognize that certain behaviors are advantageous to themselves and the group. Still, the behavior may not occur and subsequent self-interested behavior may degrade cooperation. Natural selection, however, can override the individualistic forces, thus allowing the survival of cooperative groups.

MARY SCHMITZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Peoples, James G. Individual or Group Advantage? A Reinterpretation of the Maring Ritual Cycle. Current Anthropology June, 1982 Vol.23(3):291-310.

This article addresses how individuals and groups affect human behavior. Two approaches explain behavior by their functions. The “group advantage” or “functionalism” approach assumes that members of a society act in a way that benefits their social system. The “individual advantage” or “rational strategizing” approach assumes that human behavior is directed by the private goals of individuals in a society.

Peoples holds that both explanations of human behavior are problematic; therefore, he offers a reanalysis of an ethnographic case. He addresses Rappaport’s “group advantage” explanation of the Maring ritual cycles of the Maring people in the highlands of New Guinea. Claiming the Rappaport’s approach is faulty, Peoples offers the following alternative explanation for the Maring ritual cycle: the ritual cycle developed and exists as a way for the local group to compensate its allies for warfare assistance, retain current allies, and gain new ones.

Peoples offers a brief description of the Maring ritual cycle to give context to his argument. The cycle involves periods of truce between groups of Maring people lasting from five to twenty years. These periods of truce are interrupted by acts of warfare and rituals marking such transitions. The truce phase of the cycle involves a period of time without warfare between groups as a result of a stalemate or victory from one local group. When the groups have enough pigs to sacrifice and a year-long pig feast has completed, the period of truce ends and warfare begins.

Peoples follows a summary of Rappaport’s group advantage interpretation with a critique, negating Rappaport’s main point that the ritual cycle is a response to the adaptive needs of the human population. His critique offers four reasons based on facts for rejecting Rappaport’s argument that address homeostasis, adjustment of man-land ratios, the pig population in relation to ritual timing, and the origin of the ritual cycle. Peoples focuses extensively on the question of origin of the ritual cycle. Rappaport’s model of the evolution of the cycle, if it exists, is group selection. Peoples claims that such an evolutionary model is impossible, and he gives evidence using hypothetical situations.

Peoples argues that the rituals, including the pig feast, do not serve the function of redistributing the population evenly or keeping the pig population under control. Peoples offers an alternative explanatory model to the rituals by arguing that the local groups establish and maintain military alliances through reciprocation. He argues that the evolutionary model of the Maring is natural selection. Warfare acts like natural selection to counter the selfish behavior of individuals that may threaten the survival of their group. He uses specific quotes from Rappaport’s essay to support his points. Peoples also refers to possible objections to his argument and explains why these objections are invalid.

In conclusion, Peoples asserts that individual and group advantage models are complementary. Throughout history, the counteracting force of natural selection has eliminated any groups composed of non-cooperators in the ritual cycle. He refers back to the inadequacies of individual and group advantage approaches on their own, as they fail to explain a way by which the behaviors developed.

The commentators view People’s analysis as flawed for several reasons. Some accuse Peoples of borrowing a natural science model, natural selection, which can not be applied to the social sciences. A common theme is that People’s view is ethnocentric and that he misrepresents the people of the New Guinea highlands. Others attribute the stable state of the Maring people to environmental factors, not to rituals. One commentator states that offering the explanation of individual advantage does not require the rejection of group advantage.

Peoples replies individually to each commentator, giving specific examples to defend his paper. He claims that each of the commentators missed the two major theoretical points of the paper. First, rational strategizing on an individual level may lead to group extinction. Second, natural selection may counteract rational strategizing. He proceeds to put forth two paradoxes of the Maring ritual cycle for further consideration.

LAUREN GREENBERG Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Schmidt, Benicio Viero. Modernization and Urbanization in 19th Century Brazil. Current Anthropology, June 1982. Vol.23(3): 255-262.

This essay by Benicio Viero Schmidt appears in a special issue of Current Anthropology devoted to prize-winning papers from the XLIII International Congress of Americanists. In this essay, Schmidt takes a functionalist view of modernization and urbanization in 19th century Brazil. Schmidt identifies two main components essential to the rise of modernization and urbanization throughout Brazil: (1) the manufacture of railroad and (2) the gold trade centered in the interior province of Minas Gerais. In the essay, he aims to demonstrate that these two events became vitally important in the historical evolution of Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Schmidt carefully examines the differences between the advent of rail in Brazil, its role in Brazil’s coffee cultivation, and to the use of rail in the United States. While the United States rail system provided transportation for material bases of an already modernized country, Brazil’s railroad system was created and formed by the expansion of coffee cultivation. Therefore, in Brazil, the creation of modern rail was shaped, to a great degree, by the requirements of transporting coffee. Brazil is quite different from Mexico or Peru, in that it boasted no large Pre-Hispanic urban centers such as the Aztec or Inca. Because of this key aspect, the introduction of a rail system had a profound effect on the urbanized spatial layouts of the first large cities in Brazil. This development helped contribute to the urbanization of coffee planters for the simple reason that commercial centralization began to occur in areas where the transportation systems prevailed.

The Minas Gerais gold industry was another phenomenon that contributed to the unique character of Brazil’s modernization and urbanization efforts. Secluded within the interior of Brazil, the great gold industry warranted further grounds to expand the railroad system as well as establish the capital of Belo Horizonte, which was situated close to the center of the gold industry’s principal resources. As this industry reached its golden age in the early 1700s, population boomed and the isolation and power of the gold industry generated the initial forms of urban civilization in the country out of sheer economic necessity. However, as the gold trade began to diminish in the 1740s, economic prosperity slowly moved southward as did the colonial economic and military centers. After long debate, Brasilla was established as the new capital and was modeled after Paris and Washington D.C., with long vistas and avenues and separate centers of commerce, economics, and politics within the city limits.

Schmidt offers further conclusions and overall patterns of development stemming from key roles played by the state as the manager of social capital—which inevitably made the railroad industry one of Brazil’s leading industries at the time. Also, he notes the importance of uneven regional development on f the railway network and economic centers at Minas Gerais and Brasilla as a starting point for isolated and rapid urbanization, which eventually spread throughout the country.

ADAM FIEBELKORN Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Schmidt, Benicio Viero. Modernization and Urban Planning in 19th- Century Brazil. Current Anthropology, June 1982 Vol. 23 No. 3: 255-262.

This article addresses the historical evolution of urbanization and modernization in 19th and 20th century Brazil. Schmidt is concerned with tracing 3 main issues in the development of “built environments” in Brazil: first, the consequences of public works projects in the shaping of the country; second, the central role played by the state; and third, the emergence of the issue of imbalanced regional development. He traces these issues by examining three key moments in Brazilian history: the establishment of the railway network in Sao Paulo, the construction of Belo Horizonte as a capital of the state of Minas Gerais, and the building of a new capital at Brasilia. He then examines how these developments in Brazilian history were a result of colonialism and mercantile capitalism.

Schmidt stresses the importance of coffee in the development of an industrial economy, railway system, and immigration in Brazil. He traces the difficulties faced in the development of the railway, legal changes, and eventual construction of the railway system. He describes how the railroad was paid for by private interests linked to coffee cultivation and also supported by various state incentives. He states that the railway did not change the shape or distribution of population centers but contributed to the urbanization of coffee plantations and helped to create new opening for available capital, thus speeding up the development of mature industry in Brazil. He compares the development of the Brazilian railway to that of the United States. Next, Schmidt traces the planning and construction of Belo Horizonte, the capital of the gold-mining state of Minas Gerais. He describes the difficulties faced by planners and engineers in the construction of the city, and the initial lack of commercial power exerted by the city. He states that the city became an important regional center only after the introduction of other industries such as cattle, coffee, shipping, and metallurgy. Lastly, Schmidt traces the planning of the city of Brasilia back to the 1750s. He describes the perceived need by several Brazilian administrators in the 19th century to build a capital in the interior that would be more protected from foreign invasions than a coastal city like Rio de Janiero.

Schmidt concludes that from the 1850’s onward, Brazil placed a great deal of importance on urban planning in order to compensate for the large size of the country, scattered population, lack of prior urban civilization, and fear of foreign invasion. He stresses the importance of the planning and construction of urban centers with adequate transportation in the development of a strong industrialized economy. He therefore points to the 3 major public works he describes in the article as turning points in the modernization of Brazil in the 19th century that have had long term effects in the economic and political development of the country.

EMILY RACKOW (Macalester College) Karen Nakamura

Smith, Fred. Upper Pleistocene Evolution in South-Central Europe: A Review of the Evidence and Trends. Current Anthropology December, 1982 Vol.23(6):667-703.

Smith sets out to determine the relationship between Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (archaic H. sapiens) and Homo sapiens sapiens (modern H. sapiens). Smith argues that although the transition has often been examined using fossil evidence from western Europe, the focus should be shifted to evidence found in South Central Europe instead. In addition, he believes that the transition in South Central Europe was a local transition that sis not involve substantial population replacement.

Smith divides his paper into seven separate sections. First, the in section Geographical Background he describes the landscape of South Central Europe and also explains the environment during the Upper Pleistocene. In the next section, Chronological Framework, he explains how the stratigraphy of the area has been determined. Following this, Smith briefly outlines the archaeological backdrop of many South Central European sites in the section Archaeological Background.

After Smith provides this introductory information, he goes into two rather large sections in which he describes the osteological remains of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and then Homo sapiens sapiens in the region. Classic Neandertal remains were found at the sites of Krapina in Yugoslavia; Gánovce, Kulna and Ochoz in Slovakia; and Subalyuk in Hungary. The site of Sipka located in Slovakia is questionable, but is mostly regarded as Neandertal. At the sites of Vindija in Yugoslavia and Sala in Slovakia there were Neandertal remains found that did exhibit some characteristics of modern H. sapiens. The sites of Mladec, Brno, Predmosti, Dolni Vestonice/ Pavlov, and Zlaty Kun in Slovakia; Vindija, Velika, and Pecina also in Yugoslavia are all sites deemed later in time and the remains found here are all considered to be those of modern H. sapiens.

Following this summary, Smith discusses specific morphological features and patterns between these sites in the section Evolutionary Patterns. Smith feels that there is more evidence from South Central Europe with which to examine the emergence of modern H. sapiens than there is from other parts of Europe. He concludes that until better data can prove otherwise, his data clearly shows the change was indigenous.


Twelve commentators discussed Smith’s article. Most commended Smith for his efforts to pull together important new sets relevant to the question of modern human origins in Europe. Some went on to state that they thought there might be different explanations the appearance of modern H. sapiens or that there may be other interpretations of the data presented, for example the connection of the stratigraphy to the remains found. In addition to those who disagreed with Smith’s argument (Allsworth-Jones, Boaz, Harrold, Musil, ), some commentators praised Smith and agreed completely with him while only offering minor revisions (Brace, Howells, Luchterhand, Stringer, Trinkaus, Valoch, Walker, Wolfoff).


In Smith’s reply he thanked all whom responded to his paper, specifically those who completely agreed with him and who offered helpful insights. He then went on to respond to the commentators who did not agree with his argument. He acknowledged each point and then said why he thought that it was wrong. The main concerns he addressed focused on archaeology and chronology, fossil hominid morphology, models and trends, and the scope of the paper. Smith concluded by saying that he agreed with his colleagues that much more research was necessary to better our understanding of the issue.

AMANDA SUCHARDA Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Smith, Fred H. Upper Pleistocene Hominid Evolution in South-Central Europe: A Review of the Evidence and Analysis of Trends. Current Anthropology. December, 1982 Vol. 23(6):667-699.

In this article, Smith addresses the relationship between Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (Neandertals) and Homo sapiens sapiens (modern H. sapiens) in South-Central Europe, defined as the Pannonian Basin. Smith attempts to both give a detailed overview of the Upper Pleistocene hominid remains and evaluate the three main theories Neandertal to modern H. sapien transition. He discusses the proposal gene alteration was precipitated by mass migration as well as the concept that there was gene alteration without mass migration (gene-flow). Ultimately, however, he supports the indigenous theory of evolution from Neandertals to modern H. sapiens in South-Central Europe.

Smith implements a chronological framework that is based on the Wurm Glacial and a framework of archaeological assemblages based upon radiocarbon dates for the Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic of Central Europe. Then Smith embarks on a detailed summary of the remains of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis in South-Central Europe, followed by an equally descriptive overview of H. sapiens in the same area. He accesses the eight sites of Neandertal remains: Krapina and Vindija in Yugoslavia, Gánovce and Sala in Slovakia, Ochoz in the Moravian karst region, Sipka and Kulna in northeastern Moravia, and Subalyuk in Hungary. For H. sapiens he describes the following sites: Vindija, Zlatý Kun in the Bohemian karst of Czechoslovakia, Velika Pecina in Yugoslavia, and Mladec, Dolní Vesetonice/Pavlov, Brno, and Predmosti in Monravia. Focusing his comparisons on the physical characteristics of the specimens such as tooth size, nasal breadth, and the size and shape of the cranium, among other factors, he compares known Neanderthal characteristics to those of modern H. sapiens.

Pointing to the “Neandertal-reminiscent” characteristics discovered in modern H. sapiens, Smith establishes that there exists an evolutionary continuum between the South-Central European Neanderthal and the modern H. sapiens. To explain this observation, he analyzes the three hypotheses commonly offered: indigenous evolution, “gene flow,” and the mass migration spread of genes. He quickly discounts the migration hypothesis because there is no evidence of H. sapiens present in adjacent regions. Furthermore, the observed existence of a morphological continuum is not conducive to the gene replacement proposed in the migration model. Smith does not discount the gene-flow model completely; he states that the models currently available in the art of paleoanthropology are insufficient to analyze gene flow. He points to the absence of geographical barriers as evidence of possible population contact, but maintains that regardless of the importance of gene flow, the morphological continuum in Upper Pleistocene South-Central European hominids is evidence of some form of genetic continuity between Neandertals and modern H. sapiens.

Thus, on the basis of existing information, Smith favors the indigenous transition model for South-Central Europe. Smith concludes by extending his analysis to Central and Western Europe, claiming that although Central Europe shows a similar morphological continuum, Western Europe does not. He proposes that the transition in South-Central Europe began a gene flow transition in Western Europe, but concedes that more evidence is needed before definite conclusions can be drawn.


In general, the commentators praised Smith for offering a comprehensive view of Neandertal to modern H. sapien transition in South-Central Europe and agreed that this argument is the best argument thus far for indigenous transition model in South-Central Europe. However, besides disputes in factual data such as dates and conditions of archeological sites, several commentators pointed to the insecure and simplistic chronological basis upon which Smith based his argument. The unavailability of accurately dated fossils was highlighted. Several commentators still favored a migration/replacement model, and encouraged Smith to evaluate climate (as a catalyst for migration) in his analysis. Others advocated better models of cultural contact between Upper Paleolithic peoples. Boaz questioned the categorization of “Neandertal” as these people are found only in Europe, while others encouraged Smith to incorporate evidence of hominid remains outside of Europe.


Smith first addresses the disputes in factual data, often incorporating the corrections of his reviewers. He further states that he should have included museum numbers to avoid confusion. Smith defends his use of the “simplistic” Wurm chronological model, however, stating that it is the best present model despite its shortcomings. He defended his use of specific fossils based on availability of accurate data, which indeed, is lacking. Smith also firmly responded that he believes his concentration on South-Central Europe was rational, as regional, detailed studies are needed to complete studies of larger geographical areas. He reminds his commentators that he did provide comparisons of adjacent regions. Finally, to those that discount an indigenous model, he mentions that there are also problems in accurate chronological dates to support a migration model, and reiterates that although he is suggesting the indigenous model he never fully discounted external factors.

MEGAN GOSTOLA Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Smith, M. Estellie. The Process of Sociocultural Continuity. Current Anthropology April, 1982 Vol.23(2):127-142.

Smith’s article examines the idea of continuity as it can be applied to sociocultural anthropology. She defines continuity as: “a synthetic phenomenon with the property of appearing flexible and adaptive under some conditions and persistent ad self-replicating under others”(127). She contrasts the idea of continuity with the classic dichotomy of anthropology—“tradition” versus “change”—and argues that this false divide between past, present and future flattens the complexity and connectedness of time. By dividing phenomena into “tradition” and “change” time is artificially partitioned and a disconnect is created which produces an “unreal stability and consistency of outlook and behavior on the individuals and the sets to which they belong”(129). She acknowledges that it is very difficult and problematic to include continuity into anthropological work, but argues that “continuity provides the basic dynamic elements of all sociocultural systems”(135) and is a concept that ought to be included in sociocultural studies. She contends that continuity ought not be viewed from just one angle, but many.

Smith takes her supporting data from the study of a pueblo in the American Southwest which she calls Santo Tomás. Her data, collected from 1962 to 1977, are focused on issues of pueblo governing. It was not until she became interested in issues of continuity that she realized her data, specifically the material she collected on tourism in Santo Tomás, was applicable to continuity. She uses a number of examples of the ways that the dichotomy between traditional and change not only over-simplify a transition but also ignore cultural dynamism. The examples show that change does not necessarily eclipse or eliminate tradition. She also discusses how the pueblo is seen as conservative and traditional despite all the nonnative elements that have been integrated into daily life (e.g. modern appliances, vehicles, and Roman Catholicism). Therefore, continuity as it applies to and is understood by the Tomasinos “prescribes that permanent elements be renewed and recognizes that, occasionally, in that process a recombination will create a novel variant on the permanent”(134).

For the most part the respondents liked Smith’s article, but made minor critiques and suggestions; few respondents were entirely negative. Most responders agreed that the idea of continuity is an important theoretical contribution to the field of anthropology despite shortcomings they might have highlighted. The main criticisms of Smith’s work consist of critiques of her definition and application of the term continuity, the clarity of her argument, the poor fit of her methodology and data to the issue, and her perceived hypocrisy in making some of the mistakes she warns other anthropologists about. The main praises of her work include: the contribution to the anthropology of tourism, the usefulness of the concept and issues she raises, her challenge to anthropologists to be more aware of continuity and its significance to applied anthropology.

Smith’s reply to the respondents is quite thorough. She admits to a number of the problems in her work while reaffirming the main points of her article. She thanks the respondents for their responses to her work and then replies to their criticisms and praises. For example, she chastises one commenter for asking whether continuity is a phenomenon or a process, noting the question displays the type of “dichotomizing and compartmentalizing to which I have objected”(139). Additionally, she recognizes three of the respondents for adding literature that her paper failed to include.

KITTY HARDING Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Smith, M. Estellie. The Process of Sociocultural Continuity. Current Anthropology, April, 1982. Vol.23(2):127-142

Smith’s article deals with the current models concerning what she terms, sociocultural continuity. She defines this as the process by which tradition is constantly made viable as a result of adaptation and change. Smith argues that anthropologists have been looking at continuity incorrectly, and believes that all of the past models (i.e. “Primitive” and “Binary”) consist of two entities that should actually be one. She states that only after anthropologists get past this dichotomy, will they truly be able to understand the dynamics of social systems. Smith supports these conclusions with an extended discussion on the failures of past and present schools of thought. There is a lengthy reference to the Santo Tomas, a group of Pueblo Indians in the southwestern United States. Smith argues that the residents of the Santo Tomas act in a way that supports continuance of what they value, whether or not innovation and change is occurring. In order to support this assertion, she cites several examples of the Santo Tomas remaining heavily studied in the face of cultural drift and social change. This she says describes how scientists, tourists, and even the residents themselves ignore things that signify modernism while emphasizing “Indian” things. Smith also discusses her distinction between the classical dichotomy and her single entity view of innovation and tradition in terms of the Pueblos. She says, for example, that performance of a traditional dance is preservation of tradition as well as innovative. Lastly, Smith argues that there are some cases in which cultures exhibit “discontinuity” which she distinguishes from the event of a culture changing location or certain cultural features persisting through individuals rather than whole cultures.


There are ten different, lengthy comments on this article. Many of the commentators commend Smith for her efforts in discussing this issue of “continuity”, and attempting to define otherwise ambiguous terms like “modernity” and “tradition”. Most of the comments, however, were critical in that they expressed significant criticisms of her argument and method. Smith’s definition of the term “continuity” received considerable attention, and in general was deemed unnecessary. Additionally, reviewers were concerned with the perception that Smith ideas and the issues she raised in this article were original. Lastly, the commentators seemed dissatisfied with the examples that were offered in order to support her philosophical evaluation of continuity. These commentators did not go into great detail other than to mention that they found her argument to be, in general, unconvincing and weak.


In her response, Smith emphasizes the notion that this paper was written to clarify that society and culture are only as “traditional” and “innovative” as people perceive it to be, which was merely implied in the initial publication. Thus, there will be varying degrees of the traditional and innovative elements within any one culture. This emic idea, she admits, is not new to anthropology, but disagrees that she intended for her work to appear entirely original. Conversely, she hopes that she has recombined old ideas into a new understanding. Her remarks serve as reemphasis on what she claims was the original concern, namely that scholars tend to disconnect the ideas of tradition and change. This dichotomy, she argued, restricted their analytical abilities. Additionally, she attempts to reassert the stance that it is important to understand sociocultural elements from an insider perspective, which was not entirely evident in the original article. Lastly, Smith reminds the reader that issues concerning sociocultural systems are complex and thus require complex models of explanation.

JULIE MASSEY Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Sutton, Douglas G. Towards the Recognition of Convergent Cultural Adaptation in the Subantarctic Zone. Current Anthropology, Feb., 1982. Vol.23(1): 77-97.

The Subantarctic zone is a band of ocean between Antarctica and the sub-tropical convergence, an area that had four areas that were occupied during prehistoric times: Patagonia, Tasmania, Murihiku (the southern portion of the south island of New Zealand), and the Chatham Islands (islands east of New Zealand). In this article, Sutton uses his own research in the Chatham Islands, along with research at other sites in the Subantarctic region, as evidence that the native occupants of these regions had very similar cultures prior to European contact. He argues that these areas had similar cultures because they all had limited terrestrial food resources, due to the harsh climate of the area, and rich sources of marine food resources. He details some of the results of his research, from archaeological excavations of trash middens, burial sites, and other features. He details the likely food sources of these people, which include shellfish, fish, seals, birds and items that were foraged for on land, like berries. His dietary reconstruction is based on archaeological data and contemporary observations of the types and quantities of flora and fauna on these islands. He also goes into some detail about burials and the grave goods recovered from these burials. He also mentions the artwork and tools produced by these people, as well as their cultural practices, most notably, the practices of the Moriori people of the Chatham Islands. As the Moriori lack the signs of social stratification that are found in other Polynesian people (such as tattooing) Sutton concludes that the Moriori were an egalitarian society, a description that he applies to the Subantarctic people as a whole. From the data that he gathered, he surmises that the cultures in the Subantarctic region had very similar structures, that they maintained an egalitarian, hunter-gatherer lifestyles, and lived primarily off animals that could be found around the coasts.


Those who responded to the article feel that it is a useful study of the Chatham Islands, and agree that there is some convergent adaptation between the four areas comprising the Subantarctic zone. However, they feel he was too broad in his generalizations. Some criticize Sutton for using only evidence that supports his conclusions, and criticize him for not excavating all of the middens in the immediate vicinity of the site that he was investigating. Those who disagree with his conclusions due so mainly on the basis that: (1) the local seal population around his sites in the Chatham Islands was not large enough to support a large part of the people’s diet, (2) fishing was not worth the effort in that region, and the people of those islands would have sought out easier to obtain foods on land, and (3) Moriori skeletal material contained very worn teeth, indicating that plants provided an important part of their diet.


Sutton replies that he had discussed, and taken into account, the worn teeth and the other evidence that the people in the Subantarctic region had eaten plant foods. Also, he maintains that archaeological evidence supports his conclusion that seals made a large portion of the Moriori diet and that these seals had been taken on land. Only one prehistoric harpoon had been found in the Chathams, and sailing any boat in the area would have been difficult. Sutton concludes that the objections raised to his hypotheses are insufficiently supported to be convincing, and that although the population density in the Chathams was relatively high, it was small enough to be supported by the food sources he described. Also, he claims that this population was broken into small, sedentary groups, thus limiting the amount of social interaction and complexity.

JAMES BURCH Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Sutton, Douglas G. Towards the Recognition of Convergent Cultural Adaptation in the Subantarctic Zone. Current Anthropology February 1982 Vol.23(1):77-94

Sutton examines cultural adaptability in a geographic region. He argues from a diachronic perspective that prehistoric Subantarctic peoples adapted distinctly similar cultural characteristics independent of each other and contends these characteristics developed in response to ecological factors. As a result, Sutton believes the indigenous cultures of this area belong to a single “Subantarctic or southern-circumpolar costal-hunting adaptation type” (86).

He focuses on four specific islands inhabited in the region at the time: Patagonia, Tasmania, Murihiku and the Chatham Islands. He concentrates on the Pt. Durham region on the southwestern coast of Chatham Island. The author devotes much of the article to outlining the settlement/subsistence patterns of the Chatham Islands, piecing together an evolutionary cultural history of people in the Subantarctic region, comparing these findings with other islands in Oceania.

Sutton reconstructs vegetation in this area using his own fieldwork and historical European accounts, depicting the five different vegetation zones in two maps. Using this information in conjunction with archeological evidence he explores settlement and subsistence patterns, asserting that indigenous populations were relatively sedentary and dispersed along coastal areas near concentrated seal habitats. He further supports this with his own examination of scattered refuse heaps around the Pt. Durham region.

Sutton examines the cultural history of the Chathams, separating it into two phases; 1) The Archaic Phase, and 2) The Moriori Phase. The Archaic Phase, prior to A.D. 1500, is marked by the importance of land control, which may have led to hierarchical social groupings. Sutton notes burial sites from this period contain “rich grave goods” and evidence of stone material and obsidian from non-local sources, possibly brought by Archaic Polynesians from New Zealand.

Sutton associates his research area with the second, Moriori Phase, from A.D. 1500-1800, marked by an egalitarian social structure, widespread settlements and a more “simplistic” material culture. The Moriori lacked competition for resources and did not have evidence of hierarchical art, such as tattoos, common in most other Polynesian cultures. Sutton asserts that this is evidence that they did not engage in mortal warfare.

Such demarcations are also not evident in the three other islands included in the region. Through others’ research, Sutton points out more commonalities in these areas. The islands are geographically isolated, have a simple material culture, evident in unembellished artifacts, lack food storage, typical of hunter-gatherer societies, share an egalitarian social structure and lack mortal warfare. Sutton asserts that these are not aspects of cultural degradation, but are positive cultural ecological adaptations.

Some commentators found aspects of Sutton’s article useful, however most pointed out fundamental flaws, conflicting evidence and gaps in research. Those critical of his theory suggest his evidence is biased, flimsy and highly selective. Some even said he misunderstood or misinterpreted the research of others. Most agree that his comparisons lack hard evidence. Other commentators believe Sutton’s article refreshed discussions on cultural convergence but that future developing these ideas he should consider problems encountered by other researchers on the topic. A few commentators applauded Sutton for placing this region’s people in a wider social context. Some also suggest different ways to explore the argument.

In Sutton’s reply he outlines the purposes of this paper and addresses issues brought up by individual commentators. He is defensive in his reply to several commentators and briefly considers some of their specific critiques. He claims some commentators misinterpreted the efforts or arguments presented in the article, focusing heavily on Anderson’s critique and retorting with more evidence. He also briefly explains difficulties in filling some of the gaps in his research.

RIKKI MURRAY Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Tedlock, Barbara. Sound Texture and Metaphor in Quiche Maya Ritual Language. Current Anthropology, June 1982. Vol. 23 (3): 269-272.

This article is part of a special issue of Current Anthropology devoted to prize papers from the LXIII International Congress of Americanists. The article begins with a distinction between types of speech: that used for play and that used for ritual. In speech used for play, meaning is said to be distinguished by sound texture whereas in the second, metaphor and figures of speech are utilized. The author, however, theorizes that sound texture can add meaning to ritual language as well. Her example is the Quiche Maya community of Momostenango in the highlands of Guatemala and, specifically, their use of a 260-day calendar cycle as a divination tool.

Tedlock delves into a detailed explanation of the function of the name of a day belonging to the ritual cycle in relation to the outcome of the event in question. In one of her examples, if the name Tz’I’ comes up in a divination, although the word Tz’I’ literally means “dog”, this outcome is interpreted not as a metaphorical “dog” but as a syllable of a larger word or phrase such as “Catz’iyaric” which means “to be uncertain.” The meaning of the larger word “catz’iyaric” is interpreted in relation to the question asked of the diviner. Thus Tz’I’ is not used in divination as metaphor, but as a sound. In her summary the author states that sound texture in the phrase links the name of the day to the rituals usually performed on that day. She adds that figures of speech may also play a part in interpretation. The article assumes the reader already knows the meaning of “sound texture” and the way the ritual Maya calendar functions. For this reason the article is rather obtuse and hard to understand for the average reader. It would be more of use to a scholar familiar with linguistic terminology and Mayan language.

ADRIANNE DAGGETT Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Tedlock, Barbara. Sound Texture and Metaphor in Quiché Maya Ritual Language. Current Anthropology June, 1982 Vol.23(3):269-272.

Calendrical divinatory language of the Quiché Mayan culture relies on sound texture as a means to expand or shift a metaphorical meaning, but this knowledge has been overlooked due to a distinct lack of ethnographic and linguistic research emphasis on divinatory events. The pre-Columbian Quiché Mayan calendar is based on a 260-day cycle with a succession of day designations created by combining 20 possible names with a number from 1 to 13. The continuous 260-day cycle, with no beginning or ending day, has been simplified and misinterpreted in the past by outside observers who disregarded native language explanations and simply translated the day names. Barbara Tedlock uses examples of divinatory queries and answers as a means to illustrate the complexity of the Quiché Mayan ritual language and the necessity to leave the day names untranslated from the native language.

Quiché calendrical experts interpret a given day name by usage of phrases that cannot be accurately translated as single words, but which rather frequently include the sound (not contained meaning) of a name. An example given is of the day Tz’i, which is frequently translated to simply mean ‘dog.’ In fact, Momostecan calendricists apply one or more of three mnemonics: tz’ilonic, meaning ‘to be dirty, soiled, stained, impure’, tz’iyalaj tzij, meaning ‘jealous words’, or catz’iyaric, meaning ‘it is uncertain.’ During divination, the micro-context of the divination event in question, along with the macro-context of the client’s inquiry, are used together in order to determine one of several possible interpretations. The day name and the day number are also instrumental in determining the outcome.

The mnemonics become literal or figurative answers to questions posed by a client. For example, if a client were to ask whether a specific woman would make a good wife, and the day Tz’i appeared multiple times in the divination, the answer would be negative because she was tz’ilonic (‘dirty, soiled, stained, impure’). If, however, the query regarded marriage, and Tz’i was accompanied by several other days on which the stages of the marriage ritual are performed, the interpretive phrase is catz’iyaric (‘to be uncertain’).

The 260-day cycle is an important symbol providing indigenous Momostecans with directions for general areas of life and, through divination, plans for appropriate social action. The 20 day names are untranslatable proper names to be interpreted only through the usage of mnemonic phrases. The literal or figurative interpretations are used for everyone unless the divination points to something including the diviner himself, in which case sound play and figurative language are discarded to rely on a strictly literal answer.

Barbara Tedlock first explains the structure of the calendar, proceeding afterwards to succinctly explain the divinatory importance and usages behind the calendar. She also touches upon the difference between translations or actual native text, and how the choice between the two can vastly affect the ultimate explanation of the event.

CHELSEA ADAMS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura).

Tengwall, Roger and Jackson, John. Human Posture in Zero Gravity. Current Anthropology, December, 1982. Vol.23(6):657-666.

Authors Tengwall and Jackson collect and analyze data from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Skylab experiment regarding the human posture in zero gravity (zero-g). They discuss three different types of experiments and conclude that all the astronauts experienced unnecessary muscular tension that affected their posture. The astronauts later reported that the devices used when one is fatigued, such as beds and chairs, are useless in a zero-g environment. They discuss the problems aboard space shuttles in regards to gravity and the health and comfort of the astronauts. Twelve photographs of the astronauts in relaxed positions in a zero-g atmosphere were analyzed by experts to find the degree to which body posture differs without gravity. Another experiment, conducted in water, and a third experiment involving a mannequin, provide the same results: the weightless, relaxed human body position is formed by a slanting of the feet, flexing of the hips and knees, a straight spine, elevation of the shoulders, and a lower line of vision due to a tilted neck. These positions are similar to the position of sleeping on one’s side. Tengwall and Jackson find that the average height posture difference of the astronauts was reduced by more than seven inches while in space. They then conclude that a zero-g environment may teach us about humans genetically programmed movement patterns since gravity’s pull is eradicated. The study was beneficial to the construction of space shuttles because astronauts were interviewed and discussed the problems of furnishings such as worktables that were too low and chairs that were difficult to sit in. Muscle tension in the abdomen was a common complaint along with muscle cramps and general discomfort.


Four scholars commented on the article. Two focused on critiquing the statistical findings of Tengwall and Jackson. Kimura stated that the semi-crouched postures mentioned were different from each other. He also discusses the results of experiments conducted with increased gravity on rats. Okada also discusses postural differences, arguing that the article states that postural variety is impossible without gravity. Preuschoft strongly criticizes the article, calling it disappointing and claiming that the authors omitted important information and used inadequate data. He claims that we cannot learn about human’s genetically programmed movement patterns from the experiment, as the author’s claim, because the astronauts were only exposed to the zero-g atmosphere for a short time.


Tengwall and Jackson briefly thank their commentators for their reply before broadly addressing the issues, stating that they were, in short, irrelevant or incorrect. The comments from Preuschoft were strongly opposed, and the authors claim that his argument is insubstantial.

ELIZABETH J. CARPENTER Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Tengwall, Roger and Jackson, John. Human Posture in Zero Gravity. Current Anthropology, December 1982. Vol. 23(6): 657-664

In the 1970s, NASA operated a program called Skylab, which carried out scientific experiments in space. Roger Tengwall and John Jackson analyzed data from this program for information about human posture. Because the human body is constantly under pressure from gravity, it is best suited biologically to function in a one-g environment. When people go into space, their bodies begin to change because they no longer feel the tug of gravity. Although this causes major physical problems for astronauts, it also provides researchers with useful information about human body posture.

Photographs taken from the Skylab program in the 1970s allow us to see the posture of a human in a zero gravity environment. These photographs demonstrate that without the pull of gravity, human posture becomes semi-crouched. Feet, hips, and knees all become flexed; the spine is straightened or flexed forward; the head is moved forward halfway through its range of motion; the neck is straightened forward; and the shoulders, arms, and elbows are all raised. Because of this, the body’s center of mass shifts toward the head.

When gravity is removed, it changes more than just posture. The average astronaut’s standing height is reduced 7.3 inches, and so it is vital that designers of space equipment take weightlessness into account. Chairs are no longer needed to provide relief from gravity, but weightlessness can greatly increase fatigue in astronauts, due to the fact that space equipment is designed with information gathered in a one-g environment. In space, therefore, actions and postures which normally rely on gravity become much more difficult; this fact should be taken into account when designing equipment to be used in a zero gravity environment.

The semi-crouched position characteristic of weightlessness may be observed on Earth, as well. Athletes take this position when preparing to move quickly, people take it when frightened, and it is the posture most often taken in sleep. In fact, it seems to be the neutral body position, and hospitals and furniture designers should take this into account when developing beds and chairs.

For the most part, commentators agreed with Tengwall and Jackson’s work on human posture in zero gravity; some of them simply added their own, pertinent information on human posture. Some, however, took issue with the authors’ assumptions: the belief that all ‘semi-crouched’ positions are the same was refuted by Tasuku Kimura, who also disliked the use of Standard units of measure over the metric system. On the whole, critics acknowledged the benefit of this study to the field of science.

REBECCA DRISCOLL OLSON Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Testart, Alain. The Significance of Food Storage Among Hunters-Gathers: Residence Patterns, Population Densities, and Social Inequalities. Current Anthropology, Oct., 1982. Vol 23(5): 523-537.

Alain Testart finds the categorization of societies as hunters-gatherers too encompassing of different types of societal groups. He turns his attention to groups of Native Americans of the Northwest and California as proof of striking differences among hunters-gatherers. He poses an economic explanation for these differences, by describing two types among hunters-gatherers groups, those that store food, and those who do not. Unlike nomadic hunters-gatherers who tend to consume food immediately; among food gathers that are more sedentary, seasonal food storage is practiced.

Testart outlines his argument, first, by providing a description of conditions that lead a society to implement an economy based on seasonal food storage, and second by applying the Murdock and Morrow’s cross-cultural code to explain and illustrate how practicing food storage creates marked socio-economic differences among hunter-gatherers. Testart delineates that certain ecological and technical circumstances need to be in place for a society to practice food storage. The ecological conditions relate to having profusion of resources and their seasonal availability. The necessary technical conditions are a need for competency in gathering food and efficiency in storing the surplus. He expounds on the ecological conditions stating that seasonality of food is important because storage then allows a group to live off the surplus resources in times of scarcity. This, in turn, allows more emphasis to be placed on leisure activities during times when the group is not actively involved in accumulating the food.

Testart argues that food-storing groups lack the flexibility characteristic of nomadic hunters-gathers because the economy demands detailed planning in harvesting the food, in maintaining the food stores, and in developing techniques to better preserve the surplus. A sedentary lifestyle, an increase in the population density, and a development in socioeconomic inequalities are also additional characteristics of a food storing economy. One reason Testart gives for an increase in population density is that storage allows women to become pregnant more often since the burden of traveling with young is eliminated. The socioeconomic inequalities occur in groups with food storing economy because the increase in materialism can lead to mental, ideological, and political changes.


While some commentators recognize the importance in discussing what role food storage has on defining hunter-gatherers, most take issue with his evidence he uses as proof for his argument. Forbis disagrees with his omission of the intellectual achievements and technology advancements as reasons for increased population density, the shift to sedentary lifestyles, and the emergence of socioeconomic inequalities. Ingold finds fault with Testart’s description of a nomadic lifestyle as flexible, because many nomadic groups travel in a set, not random, pattern that requires both planning and thought. Stuart asserts that the introduction of a sedentary lifestyle is not the only reason for an increase in population density because it ignores other factors such as improvement in diet. He also criticized the fact that Testart believes that all nomadic hunter-gatherers were egalitarian since there are examples of hunters being awarded more wives because of their success.


Testart recognizes that the commentator’s questions revolved around three themes: (1) storage and the economic structure, (2) the role of sedentarism, population density, and social inequalities; and (3) the relevance of storage on the socioeconomic evolution of societies. He argues that most commentators misinterpreted his definition of food storage in their responses. In addition he asserts that while nomads may move in set pattern they still do not leave behind well-structured residences and substantial food stores. His definition of food storages implies large-scale food stores that would eliminate the need for a nomadic lifestyle. Lastly Testart maintains that the importance of agriculture has been over emphasized as a factor in the evolution of complex societies, stating that ecological factors played a large role in whether a society employed agriculture or a food storage economy.

NORA GUBBINS Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Testart, Alain. The Significance of Food Storage of Hunter-Gatherers: Residence Patterns, Population Densities, and Social Inequalities. Current Anthropology October, 1982 Vol.23(5):523-537

Testart sets out to explain why there are differences in social complexities within similar hunter-gatherer societies. He uses a Marxist/materialist point of view to present the idea that there are two different kinds of economies: 1) nomadic hunter-gatherers and their immediate use of resources; and 2) sedentary foragers who store food. Tesart begins the article by explaining the latter in detail.

He describes four conditions to determine whether or not a society usees storage techniques. He contends that the two main characteristics of the storage economy are seasonal difference in food-getting activities and rigidity or flexibility of the economy.

He goes on to say that there are three other characteristics important to these communities: sedentary lifestyle, high population density, and inequalities in socioeconomic roles. He explains that sedintarism not only inhibits the possibility of nomadism, but also makes it unnecessary. Testart also shows that while nomads have low population densities, sedentary peoples have higher ones. Here he examines socioeconomic roles, noting that higher population density allows for more social stratification.

A surplus of food is generated in sedentary societies, allowing a class of nonproducers to emerge. These nonproducers gain the power to exploit producers. He argues that this phenomenon occurs in hunter-gatherer societies, though the idea has not previously been accepted. He accounts for these discrepancies by examining whether or not societies have a storing economy.

Testart explains that sedentarism allows a society to accumulate material goods, such as equipment for storing and preserving food. In this situation, it is possible to set up a system of exchange and gift giving. He argues that restructuring a society from non-storage practices to food storing technology means a transformation in ideology. Storage emphasizes the individual’s power. He goes on to point out that food storage creates a separation between the producer and the product.

The second portion of Testart’s paper looks at Murdock’s cross-cultural codes to explain whey storing and non-storing societies account for differences in hunter-gatherer societies. His best examples are the Northwest Coast Indians, peoples of southeastern Siberia and Japan, and California Indians. He notes that storing hunter-gatherers are absent in deserts and tropical areas.

He constructs a chart using Murdock’s codes of societal adjustments and conditions to define which of the 186 societies presented practice storage. He shows that those with constant ecological conditions and those that lack techniques are not likely to practice storage. Testart concludes that it is not the presence of agriculture that is relevant in considering hunter-gatherer societies, but the presence or absence of storage practices.

The comments given on Testart’s article are almost unanimous, in that most of the respondents agree with his main points and see this article as fundamentally important. However, each respondent has specific examples of data or arguments with which they disagree. Some claim that the dichotomy between storing and non-storing societies is not universal enough and that he should consider other factors in his argument. Some respondents also critique the lack of data for some of his claims.

Testart responds to these comments by expanding on three topics: storage and economic structure; sedentarism, poulation density and social inequalities; and the relevance of storage for a reconsideration of the socioeconomic evolution of societies.

CAROLYN WATERS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)

Vaidyanathan, A., Nair, K.N., and Harris, Marvin. Bovine Sex and Species Ratios in India. Current Anthropology August, 1982 Vol.23(4):365-383.

In this article, the authors are trying to broaden the study of India’s sacred-cattle complex and its possible causes. They believe that although Hinduism may play a role in human/cattle relationships, it is not a major catalyst. Their studies find that despite Hindu religious sanctions against cattle slaughter, there are systematic adjustments to the bovine stock according to age, species, and sex. In keeping with their materialist orientation, they found the major reasons for these adjustments are demographic, technological, environmental, and economic.

From the government of India census material on cattle, the authors found the number of male cattle greatly exceeds the number of female cattle. The authors believe that this is due to the need for strong plow animals to work the predominately dry and hard-packed soil that is characteristic in India. However, as the population density of a region increases, and the size of a family’s farm decreases (or there is an introduction of tractor power), the number of male cattle decreases and the number of female cattle increases. The authors state that when the size of land a family holds decreases it becomes less productive to keep a male draft cow because it is plowing less. At this time, the economic value of the female cow heightens due to its milk production and reproduction capabilities (giving birth to more calves). The source of income created by the female cattles’ reproduction of new male draft cows to sell is largely important to a small landholder.

The authors also delve into species and sex ratios of male and female buffalo in India. The government of India census materials on bovine stock also reveal that female buffalo greatly outnumber male buffalo. The authors also found an interesting inverted sex pattern when comparing species. She-buffalo outnumber she-cows and he-cows outnumber he-buffalo. They explain the reasons for these differences are due to the fact that she-buffalo are the principle source of milk in India (over cattle milk) and male buffalo, although they would be a strong addition to help on a farm, are harder to maintain and work slower than male draft cows.

The authors also found that although buffalo milk is preferred over cattle milk due to its higher fat content, there were certain regions that preferred the latter. The authors explain that in these regions rice is the only food grown. Rice monoculture produces a more limited fodder for livestock, which only she-cattle can survive on. She-buffalo require more diet variety and are more expensive to maintain. The authors believe that religious beliefs alone cannot account for such sex and breed disparities in India’s bovine stocks.


For the most part, the commentators found the study interesting. However a few found problems with explaining sex disparities of the Indian bovine stock as being purely demographic and economic. For example, one commentator, Batra, had data that showed the caste system played a major role in bovine selection. A number of other commentators complained that the authors’ data were not clear because they specified neither the year each of their findings was gathered in, nor the sources. Also, the commentators did not agree with the authors’ data groupings. They divided bovine ratios according to states and political zones, and the commentators assert that each of these zones may have multiple environmental regions. One commentator, Nonini, stated that since the authors’ argument has ecology playing a major role they should not group their data according to political boundaries.


In answer to many of the commentators’ concerns on how the data were collected, the authors clarified that much of it came from comparison of census materials from multiple years. Though they agree the data may not be perfect, they are satisfied to the way the data were collated and the uniform findings that resulted. The authors are aware of the danger of grouping their data in regards to political region, but believe grouping by ecological boundaries would not alter the results. They do, however, encourage more studies in regards to the specific environmental zones and bovine sex ratios. The authors also claim they were never trying to attribute sex selection in bovines solely to demographic and economic factors, but were trying to prove that religion alone did not provide a sufficient explanation for livestock patterns. The main purpose of the article was to spawn additional research on animal husbandry in India that include exploration of a wider range of variables, beyond solely religious ones.

DEBRA MORAVETZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Various Authors. Archaeology in China: Recent work from Chinese Publications. Current Anthropology, Oct. 1982. Vol 23(5): pp473-499.

Four Chinese publications were selected and presented in English translations to illustrate discoveries in the fields of Chinese anthropology. The first article in the series, “Paleoanthropology in China, 1949-1979” by Wu Rukang, describes the finds associated with several different early hominid sites in China. The author points out that the field of paleoanthropology is quickly growing in China with assistance from education institutions and museums. The first hominids discussed by Rukang are the Dryopithicus and Ramapithicus both identified through dental remains and dated back to the Late Miocene. This is followed by a discussion of Gigantopithecus. Through analysis of the dental remains of several individuals, a wide range of ages were documented by the author, from the Early to Middle Pleistocene. Rukang also points out that much of the information on Gigantopithecus is limited due to the only remains being cranial fragments and teeth, making it difficult to classify them taxonomically.

The author then proceeds to describe the artifacts found from the Early, Middle, and Upper Paleolithic sites. Large heavy stone tools were found in Early Paleolithic sites, such as the Peking site. These examples of lithic technology, according to the author, suggest possible cultural similarities between habitation groups throughout China. Rukang discusses the importance of the preservation in skull fragments in Middle Paleolithic sites to assess taxonomic classification. Similarly, in assessing the Upper Paleolithic sites, cranial remains were used to determine the sex and age of the individuals found.

The second article, entitled “Survey and Trial Excavation of a Neolithic Site at Dakou, Jungar Banner, Inner Mongolia” by Ji Faxi and Ma Yaoqi, describes the finds at the excavation site of Dakou, including two houses, seven children’s urn burials, and ceramic, bone and stone artifacts. Based on ceramic evidence, the authors claim that Dakou is contemporary with the Keshengzhuang culture. In the two undated phases of occupation, ceramic artifacts were small and stone and bone tools were similar in production style. Numerous types of ceramics were found in the first phase, including, gray ware, black ware and red ware. The houses and burials make up much of the discussion on the second phase. The houses were semi-subterranean structures with rounded corners. The urn burials found at the site contained younger children and infants of the settlement and the ceramic urns had previously been used as cooking pots according to the authors. The majority of the ceramics was gray fine ware and had been hand constructed.

The third article of the series “Reexamination of a Microlithic site at Xiqiaoshan, Nanhai County, Guangdong” by Huang Weiwen, Li Chunchu, Want Honshou, and Huang Yukun describes the analysis of collections from several deposits from the site of Xiqiaoshan which is located in a mountainous region of Southern China and consists of both natural and man-made caves. As reported by the authors, some of the artifacts have been disturbed due to erosion, but many were in their original contexts. The authors conclude the site was not one of habitation, but a quarry and production center for lithic tools dating to either the end of the Early Neolithic or the beginning of the Middle Neolithic. This is based on the large amount of flakes from the production of stone tools that fill the caves of the area. Also, through analyzing characteristics of the tools’ production techniques, it is stated they derive from the same period. The flakes from the site also are divided into three types. The first type contains those tools with a platform. The second type contains those without platforms. Both the first and second types result in thin and neat flakes. The third type contains leaf-shaped flakes. This site also shows proof, according to the authors, of quarrying and microblade technology along the coastal areas of China.

The final article, “Paleoliths and Microliths from Shenja and Shuanghu, Northern Tibet” by An Zhimin et al. describes the findings at a site in the highlands of Tibet. The authors point out that the tools from the site cannot be precisely dated or put into cultural context because they were surface finds. The flakes found at the site are divided into four types: long scrapers, round-headed scrapers, double-sided scrapers, and points (most of which had been retouched and came from only one site). The microliths on the other hand were found at every site. The author divides them into three types as well. The first type was composed of cores; found in wedge shapes, conical shapes, and cylindrical shapes. The second group contained flakes, both conical and cylindrical. The third category contained scrapers. The author states that by the flakes and microliths occurring in two separate geographical locations, it gives suggestion to the idea that two different time periods existed through the sites. The tools are very similar to those found in other Upper Paleolithic sites in China and help authors date the site(s) in the area. Finally, the artifacts from these sites, argues the authors, gives proof to the activities of peoples on the Tibetan Plateau, once thought to be insufficient for human activity.

SUSAN SCHEEF Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

White, Randal. Rethinking Middle/Upper Paleolithic Transitions. Current Anthropology, Apr., 1982. Vol. 23(2).

In this article, Randal White discusses archaeological evidence for behavioral shifts between Middle and Upper Paleolithic sites in an attempt to fuel discussion on what he believes to be an important topic that has not received enough attention. As a basis for his discussion, White compares the archaeological findings and hypothesis of others with his own experiences at sites in Southwestern France. First he questions Mellars’ assessment of stone tool technology as well as production, agreeing that the Middle Paleolithic was characterized by flake technology and a conservative production method. On the other hand, the Upper Paleolithic is marked by blade technology as well as a rapid change in development strategy. Mellars’ hypothesis that Middle Paleolithic peoples did not make use of bone tools is questioned and White refers to the findings of altered bone artifacts at Cueva Morin in Spain. White agrees with Mellars’ findings of personal ornamentation as a difference between Middle and Upper Paleolithic sites as well as a broadening of subsistence trends. This shift in subsistence trends is a result of climate change and is supported by an abundance of reindeer bones at French sites, pointing to a greater reliance on a single game species. White claims that Mellars’ hypothesis that Upper Paleolithic settlements were larger and denser than Middle Paleolithic settlements was biased in that some important sites were not considered. The final concerns with Mellars’ study is his use of dated site information regarding his study of population density as well as a lack of comment on art being a distinguishing difference between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. In the second part of this article, White comments on Binford’s studies of stone tools and their similar production techniques and uses between sites. White disagrees with him, stating that much variation occurs intra-site regarding stone tools. During the Upper Paleolithic, he claims, the first variation over time in stone tool production and use both over time and within various regions occur. Finally, White points out in his own observations of differences between Middle and Upper Paleolithic sites towards the end of the article. The beginnings of mortuary ritual, the development of status within societies as well as the concept of ethnicity all occur for the first time in Upper Paleolithic sites. He also claims that many of these changes and differences are most likely a result of changing cultural and social ideas then due to environmental causes.


In response to White’s article, several persons contributed their interpretations of not only what White had discovered but also their own experiences, helping to achieve the goal of the article to stimulate discussion on the topic of the changes between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. Many of the responses to White’s article applaud his efforts to create a greater interest in the study of the transition between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic and viewed his article as an important stepping off point. However, some of the responses criticized White’s article for paying too much attention on how the Upper and Middle Paleolithic sites were different that on studying the transition that occurred between the two time periods.


White responds positively to the comments that his article gained from other professionals in the field. He thanks people for their constructive criticisms as well as addresses the replies according to the relative heading area in the differences between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. In response to his tone tool studies, he said that a more evolutionary study of change rather than a study of the types of tools found and the differences between them would be more beneficial to the area and the topic that he attempted to address. Regarding his analysis of bone tools he changes his position that there had been bone tools in the Middle Paleolithic. He also reiterates the point that the size of the settlements in the Upper Paleolithic became larger and more complex compared to those of the Middle Paleolithic.

SUSAN SCHEEF Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

White, Randal. On the Paleolithic/Mesolithic Transition. Current Anthropology, April 1982 Vol. 23(2): 224

In his essay On the Paleolithic/Mesolithic Transition, Randall White critiques Brian Hayden’s article on the same subject. While admitting that Hayden has made some very valuable points, White calls Hayden’s accuracy into question.

Hayden has posited that technological innovation occurs when societies are at times of high stress. When in crisis mode, Hayden says, a group will alter its patterns and behaviors in order to survive, while a culture that is not under stress will have no reason to do so. He connects such changes in stress level to a transition from the Paleolithic Period to the Mesolithic Period throughout Europe. It is here that White first takes issue with Hayden’s logic. White feels that Hayden is correct in his belief that Paleolithic peoples were semi-nomadic. However, there are archeologists who believe that not only did sedentarism exist in the Final Paleolithic, but that some nomadism persisted in the Mesolithic. White feels that Hayden should take this information into account.

In addition, White argues that the increase in population that Hayden claims appeared with the technological innovation of the Mesolithic Period may not have existed. In fact, White says, a population decrease may have taken place, as groups may have reacted to stress not through cultural change, but by focusing their energies on smaller numbers of people.

Finally, White asserts that Hayden was incorrect in assuming that the Mesolithic Period must necessarily be connected to the invention of certain tools. For example, boiling pits, which Hayden places in the Mesolithic Period, belong in the Final Paleolithic Period. In addition, edge-ground tools, which Hayden also placed in the Mesolithic, did not appear until almost the Neolithic.

Randall White believes that while Brian Hayden has made important arguments regarding the transition from a Paleolithic to Mesolithic Europe, he has made assumptions about this transition that are inaccurate.


White, Randell. Rethinking the Middle/Upper Paleolithic Transition. Current Anthropology Vol. 23, No 2 April 1982

White sets out in this article to refine the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods. He reviews techniques that establish the age of artifacts and sites. Next to White, Malarious was one of the first to lay the foundation for the describing of the Middle and upper Paleolithic periods. White uses Mellars studies and experiments as a foundation for his transition or reformation into the new defined eras of Middle and Upper Paleolithic.

First White explains what a study Mellars had although it was not widely discussed. White establishes that certain ornaments, art, populations of people and dominance of herbivore species in the archeological sites are used to determine the sites date of existence. He concluded that there are dimensions that were classified together in Middle and Upper Paleolithic times that caused problems now because they have great variation and should be revised.

White assumes that all his readers are familiar with different Paleolithic times and measurements to define that segment of time. He used burins and scrapers to establish the frequency in all available Magdalenian and Aurignacian assemblages to decipher which Paleolithic. era they are in. A chart he provides states that Magdalenian and Aurignacian were sites that were studied.

COMMENTS: The comments were all grateful for his patience and celerity with this subject. They all say, ironically that his well-organized review of the data and ideas relative to Middle to Upper paleolithic transition is welcome. It seems that a reassessment of the transition was over due. The only discrepancy was that there is a great need for understanding of forager systems and better understanding substance tactics tart may work better than ornaments and art to distinguish Paleolithic eras.

REPLY: Whites reply to the comments can be summarize as a polite thank you. He was thankful that his peers could see what he was trying to establish with his work on the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition. He intended to make people aware that there is still work to do in distinguishing Middle to Upper Paleolithic eras.

CALVIN W. SNEED University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)

Winkelman, Michael. Magic: A Theoretical Reassessment. Current Anthropology, Feb., 1982. Vol 23(1) 37-66.

Winkelman addresses the need for revision of the anthropological theories relating to magical beliefs. Many theories claim magical practices cannot to be described empirically. One important problem notes Winkelman is that our studies of magical beliefs are too influenced by a western bias. The recent discoveries in parapsychology constitute the basis of the author’s demand for re-analyzing current theoretical orientations. By integrating the data from research done in parapsychology and the work done by anthropologists (Lang, 1894 and De Vesme, 1931) studying magical practices in various cultures, a discovery was made that pointed to the psi ability as a possible root for magic. Winkelman defines psi as the underlying energy in all parapsychology or, in other words, a force in the world that transcends accepted laws of nature. Psi is the ability to be aware of an external event without the means of sensory methods. Winkelman argues that anthropologists have had difficulties in accurately identifying events involving psi because of the inability to consistently distinguish the exact source of their observations, such as whether it is their own perspective or of an informant. He contends that by looking at both the results of the ethnologies done by anthropologists and the data from experiments conducted in parapsychology, similarities in the psi expressions will be found in both instances.

Winkelman divides the article into two main parts. First in a section entitled the Magic-Parapsychology Correspondents, he outlines shared conditions between the experimental and anthropological domains. In the first part, he argues that both parapsychology and magic have the characteristics of altered states of consciousness, goal-orientated visualizations, expectation of positive results, strong belief, and illustrating deep human emotions. He also includes theories that are comparable in both magic and parapsychological research, such as the shared ideas of mana and psi, the similar techniques to manipulate psychokinesis, and the practice of divination and psi-mediated information gathering. In a second section, entitled Theoretical Perspective, Winkelman describes the two main perspectives as the intellectualist theory and the symbolist approach. The intellectualist theory consists of the idea that there exists a commonality in the constitution of magic. This universality is the reason for why people have similar responses to intrinsic beliefs. The symbolist approach argues that practicing magic in a society maintains its sense of order.


Overall the commentators had a diverse range of responses to Winkelman’s article. Most commentators recognize the need for communication among experts on the subjects of psi-related events and magical beliefs in culture. One commentator agreed with Winkelman, in that the aspect of psi should be included in the anthropological theories on magic. However many take issue with his analysis and his categorization of key concepts which have not yet been verified with extensive testing and study, such as assuming that psi is present in magic. In addition one finds his description of magic lacking in that he disregards many of the past anthropologists’ debates over how to define magic. Some reviewers find his article heavy with factual errors in his representations of certain case studies, such as Rose (1978) and Reichbart (1956). A commentator also argued that while Winkelman laments that there is a lack of anthropological study on magic, he ignores the fact that over the years folklorists have also been gathering and processing data about magical practices. A few of the commentators found the overall argument weak and not concise.


Winkelman begins by expressing appreciation to those that found the article important in encouraging more discussion on magical practices. He defends his work against the opposition of those who differ in opinion by stating that he only expressed a need for a change in the ideology of magic and the study of parapsychology. He argues that further discussion of the concept psi is greatly important to the studies of magic in a culture. He looks to other experts’ research to assert that psi does exist in magical practices. Differences in magic, he believes, should not be means for categorization but could be the results of such factors as individual’s culture. Winkelman also addresses the criticism of many who are concerned with the consistency of parapsychological research by asserting that only a small percentage of research consists of poor scientific quality.

NORA GUBBINS Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Wolpoff, Milford H. Ramapithecus and Hominid Origins. Current Anthropology, 1982 Vol.23(5):501-522

Wolpoff argues that there is a major need for the readjustment of hominid evolutionary phylogeny. Ultimately he argues that morphological changes in the fossil record were a result of the reconstruction of social positions within society rather than a biological/physiological evolutionary event resulting in social change. This social change is not defined, but he claims that it resulted in the loss of social displays for control, change in social expectations, and the reciprocal provisioning of food which latter led to physiological evolution. To come to these conclusions he argues that the Darwinian theory of hominid evolution, namely that perception of brain expansion as criterion for evolution is minimal, if not totally incorrect. He argues that early conclusions based on fossil evidence were made by fitting the evidence to the model. Additionally, he argues that tool making played a role in the cultural shift rather than being a result of physiological change. Wolpoff argues that a distinction between tool making and stone tool making has been confused. Evidence for the differentiation was gathered by the observation of chimpanzees, where lithic and non-lithic tools are used. This distinction is necessary because anthropologists believe that tool use developed after the hominid divergence only because “tools” do not show up in the archaeological record before hominids. Instead, he argues that early non-lithic tools played a significant role in the cultural shifts that lead to the morphological changes. Wolpoff also addresses C.J Jolly’s “seed-eater” model in which Jolly argues that morphological changes were due to a shift in diet. Wolpoff criticizes this model by pointing out that powerful mastication does not imply that the object being chewed is small and seed-like, nor an adaptation to terrestrial life. He also argues that there is no explanation for how features in later hominids follow this “small-object phase”. These arguments are intertwined with a lengthy discussion of specific fossil examples.


In general, all twelve reviewers were pleased with the presentation of the theoretical history of hominid origins. Likewise, they all agreed that there are serious consequences to the haphazard way the fossil record has been classified, and that there exists a need for reclassification. De Bonis believes that Wolpoff’s own sources serve as contradictions to what he calls a “late divergence” hypothesis proposed by Wolpoff. He argues that these “late divergence” hypotheses, also known as “molecular clock” theories, assert that molecular biology can give the time of divergence. At the same time, however, De Bonis says that some of Wolpoff’s sources argue against a model by which the time of divergence is calculated. Fleagle argues that suspensory behavior seems to be linked to bipedalism as a pre-adaptation rather than a result of adaptation. Frayer’s comments are concerned with how Wolpoff might account for the Eurasian fossils which are not represented in the ramapithecines. Lastly, many of the reviewers express concern about Wolpoff’s model, and his attempt to make classification an independent and objective process.


Wolpoff’s reply is rather lengthy, but addresses each and every concern raised by his peers. Wolpoff begins his reply by addressing the suggestion that his model is somewhat less than scientific. He asserts that the sources he listed do in fact demonstrate how his model is scientific, and argues that his article is not too vague. He explains the Popperian method on which his model was based in order to address Walker’s concerns. In response to Tattersall, he argues that the circularity of arguments are somewhat implicit given the basis of taxonomy in anthropology, and that the question for him is whether or not major changes can occur as the result of gradual evolution. A considerable amount of attention is focused on the linkage between the genus Homo and the pongids as well as other related taxa. Wolpoff briefly addresses the issue of Eurasian distinctions and the concerns about his dismissal of biochemical evidence with regard to hominid origins.

JULIE MASSEY Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Young, L.M. The Shang of Ancient China. Current Anthropology, June, 1982. Vol.23(3):311-314.

This article appeared in a special issue of Current Anthropology which included prizewinning papers from the XLIII International Congress of Americanists. In the article, author L.M. Young synthesizes and recapitulates the works of K.C. Chang. Chang wrote about the early Chinese cultures from both archaeological and anthropological perspectives. He analyzed the structural elements, which made up the Chinese civilization in North China, specifically the Shang. Young then referred to various sources in order to discuss the different opinions of various aspects of Chang’s works.

In Chang’s works, he discusses and explores the data that contribute to the clarification of the characteristics of the Shang culture. Synthesizing a variety of components, Chang evaluates the Shang sociopolitical structure. Throughout his works, Chang makes a comparative chronology in order to classify artifacts. Young then compares Chang’s efforts to the work of other authors, either strengthening or weakening Chang’s conclusions. Some elements that Chang explores in his works are the residences of the Shang, industry and crafts, the ecological resources of the Shang, aristocratic lineages, economic foundations, and the hierarchy of the Shang dynasty.

Young then summarizes and assesses Chang’s comparisons and parallels with other civilizations that share the same elements as the Shang, such as a similar dynastic system in Malaya. Chang utilizes the studies of Chinese historiographers and epigraphers to supplement his studies. He is largely concerned with the archaeology of the Shang outside Anyang, China. Chang also discusses the site Erh-li-kang in Cheng-Chou, which has an impressive stratigraphic sequence with bronzes and ceramics. Chang is then able to come up with some cultural traits characteristic of the Shang and claims that the Shang could have been an organized political group from another region in the Far East, even though there is a lack of proof. Chang then explores the Shang economy, which is based largely on the cultivation of wheat, millet, and rice. He states that the Shang are particularly good metallurgists, especially with bronze. Young subsequently discusses the opinions of various other scholars who have also done extensive research on the Shang dynasty. For example, Barnard argues that the Chou had superior metallurgy technology to the Shang, while Keightley concurs. Loehr noted that there is a relationship between the curved knife of the Shang and the knives of east-central Russia and Siberia, implying that external evidence may have affected the Shang’s bronze metallurgy.

ELIZABETH CARPENTER Marquette University (Jane Peterson)