Current Anthropology 1983

Ahmed, Akbar S. Islam and the District Paradigm, Current Anthropology February, 1983 Vol.24(1):81-87.

This article is made up of replies to Akbar S. Ahmed’s article named “Islam and the District Paradigm: Emergent Trends in Contemporary Muslim Society.” He published this article in two different journals: Middle East Journal and Arab Studies Quarterly, under different names. Current Anthropology decided to only print replies to this article as well as Ahmed’s reply.

Tahir Ali believes that Ahmed brings up issues that have not been brought up in the changing Muslim societies. Ali says that anthropologists must be able to understand that religious factors have been changing social systems in this area. Ali considers that Ahmed’s definition of a district which he believes is the institutional framework for Muslim society is vague and unclear. He argues that Ali uses the image of Mullah and what it stands too many times.

Robert Canfield concurs that Ahmed does good in his article by bringing up issues created by the resurgence of Islam. Yet he disagrees with Ahmed saying that the Mullah is creating a “religious battle hysteria” (92) because of irrational emotion. He also has a problem with his brief description of the cultural framework which makes the Mullah and its importance so powerful.

I.F.S. Copland considers that Ahmed’s discussion of the rise to power of the Mullah is useful. Yet, he believes that Ahmed did not make clear why the Mullah risked so much to rise to do so. Copland also thinks that Ahmed’s article gives support to findings of research that Islam, at a local level, is defined by ethnicity, political strategy, and ideology. The study of Islam is now being done holistically. Copland understands why Ahmed admits the district paradigm is so valuable yet he does not believe that it applies to all areas and ideas.

Dale F.Eickelman states that it is difficult to agree with Ahmed’s idea that contemporary Islamic political movements have not been researched thoroughly or in the anthropological way. Eickelman believes that research that has been done strongly supports Ahmed’s idea of a district paradigm.

Ruth McVey replies that Ahmed is right in saying that the current Islamic revival should be studied at local levels and national levels. Yet McVey is not certain she agrees with Ahmed’s idea to do studies in tribal settings. McVey believes that studies should be done in urban settings, something that Ahmed did not suggest.

M.Nazif Shahrani does not reflect that Ahmed did not support his issues well.. He does not accept as true that Ahmed supports his idea of a paradigm correctly. Shahrani thinks that Ahmed’s article would have been better if he had made it more distinct, such as explaining thoroughly what the Mullah, the main objective of the article, is. He thinks that Ahmed creates more ambiguities. He does praise Ahmed’s view that Muslim society should be examined as it is.

Bahram Tavakolian believes that Ahmed contributes to solving the problem in contemporary anthropological theory in which one must relate community level social organization and ideology to national-level institutions and processes by his idea of the district paradigm. He completely supports Ahmed and believes that he did a good job in identifying the goals of the Mullah.

Reply: Ahmed replies to all of the commentators that his main goal was to help others understand that contemporary Islamic movements should be studied. And not only in urban centers but in tribal as well. He also wishes to prove that the nature of the Islam religion is not only just in society, but in all other matters, and whether they be political.

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

Ali, Tahir; Canfield, Robert L.; Copland, I.F.S.; Eickelman, Dale F.; McVey, Ruth; Shahrani, M. Nazif; Tavakolian, Bahram; Ahmed, Akbar. Islam and the District Paradigm. Current Anthropology, February, 1983. Vol.24(1):81-87.

The information located on the above pages of the twenty-forth volume of Current Anthropology contains several commentators responding to a case study written by Akbar Ahmed concerning contemporary Muslim movements. The case study is not offered in the pages of this volume, but an understanding of the article can be obtained through the commentators responses and a reply to the commentators by Ahmed. The author outlines his case study in his reply by emphasizes the four points of his research. The first is to try to show the complexity of the different Islamic movements and the political and economic that they play into. The second point was to observe and compare the movements in and around urban and rural settings to see where the strongest and most active participants reside. The third point is to find the level of the society where other researchers have neglected to study the movements, and the last point is to show the patterns of Islam throughout history. The majority of the commentators agree that the subject of the case study was important and often neglected in anthropology. However, each of the commentators demonstrated problems with his “District Paradigm.” The general consensus is that the paradigm is too brief, inappropriate, and inadequate at explaining any level of the Islamic society. It was also noted that Ahmed’s case study was better at explaining the religion in urban and rural settings than it was at explaining the contemporary movements of the religion. The last section of the comments is a reply by Ahmed, which includes the outline of the case study listed above. He responds to the commentators in agreement by admitting that at times his study was too brief and inadequate, however the purpose was more to shed light on unanswered questions of Islamic society rather than try to give all of the right answers. Ahmed offers a more adequate explanation of the problems raised by the commentators in two more selections of the article “Religion and Politics in Muslim Society.”

DANIELLE RICKLEFS-MITCHELL California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Alekshin, V.A., “Burial Customs as an Archaeological Source,” Current Anthropology, Vol.24.,No.2.: 137, April 1983.

This article, “Burial Customs as an Archaeological Source,” examines the material culture of burial grounds as an archaeological source of sociological, cultural and demographic information. The excavation of burial grounds offers the potential to analyze two interrelated funerary components: ritual and social position of the deceased. The reconstruction of burial grounds is a necessary device for further investigation of these sources. Reconstructed burial grounds and customs are divided into six informational units interpreting material data into sociological and cultural meaning. These six informational units are comprised of the following: conceptions of death and the other world, the development and succession of cultures, age and sex differences, social stratification, marriage and the family, and demographic features.

JILL JOHNSON University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Alekshin, V.A. Burial Customs as an Archaeological Source. Current Anthropology February, 1983. Vol.24(2):137-149.

The general concern of the Alekshin article is to emphasize the archaeological importance of burial customs. The author argues that burial sites are often the only way for an archaeologist to find important information on the material and spiritual lives of ancient cultures. Furthermore, he emphasizes that burial grounds are especially important for providing information in areas where there is little to nothing else to excavate. He uses the example of the area formerly known as the Soviet Union to demonstrate this because there are a vast amount of burial grounds without any settlements. The data used for the article was received through his own research in the former Soviet Union and that of other archeologists in the same area. Alekshin organizes the article by giving a brief outline of what archeologists in this region have concluded about burial customs from excavations since the early twenty-first century. The conclusion seems to be that members of ancient cultures living in this region believed in another world after death. This is evident through the ways in which they buried their dead and it can be seen in several different groups throughout the region. The article continues with an explanation of how funeral practices are composed of ritual and material components. Furthermore, the author believes that in order to fully understand what was going on this ancient culture must be reconstructed. He finds that a reconstruction can be broken down into six elements, the first three of which contain important information about both the material as well as the ritual components of the customs. These elements are death and the afterlife; development of the culture; age and sex differences of the individuals; social stratification; marriage and family; and the demographic aspect of the culture. The article is concluded with an extensive description of each of the six elements of the reconstruction process. Finally, the author points out a few vital details to excavating burial grounds. An example of this is the importance of not overlooking material objects, even if they may be a part of a destroyed burial ground. A section follows the paper with opinions offered by commentators, but there is no comment from Alekshin responding to the comments made on his article.

The commentators view the article as too simplistic and commonsensical. The majority believed that it is inappropriate to make behavioral assumptions based on burial materials. More than once, complaints were made about the importance of providing more skeletal information that could have aided in making assumptions on certain things such as behavior, ethnicity, or residence. It was also noted that there was insufficient information on the death and afterlife element of the reconstruction. Overall, most of the commentators found his information to be too ambiguous to make such specific assumptions about the culture of ancient peoples.

DANIELLE RICKLEFS-MITCHELL California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Anderson, Peter. The Reproductive Role of the Human Breast. Current Anthropology February, 1983 Vol.24(1):25-45


The female breast plays a major role in human reproduction by way of attracting potential mates and breast-feeding. The amount of times a woman breast-feeds is proportional to the length an infertility the women will experience after child birth. The effects of to breast-feeding are due to amenorrhoea-which is the loss of menstrual cycles and anovulation which is the loss of ovulation.

However, these affects are not permanent. The amount of time of anovulation and amenorrhoea depend on the number of times a woman breast-feeds. The !Kung, who are a native tribe of the South African Kalahari Desert, suckle their infants up to 60 times per day. This is in sharp contrast to a study of Edinborough mothers in which few fed their infants more than 6 times a day. The !Kung and Edinborough women spend approximately the same amount of time breast-feeding, though the !Kung sucked up to 10 times as much as the Edinborough women. For this reason, the !Kung have a longer period of infertility.

On a physiological level, amenorrhoea and anovulation are the effect of the increase of prolactin which causes the decrease of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FHS) and luteinising hormone (LH). Without proper amounts of FHS and LH, ovarian follicular development, ovulation and corpus luteum formation will not occur. High prolactin levels are maintained by the sucking stimulus on the nipple. Thus, high prolactin levels account for the infertility females experience while breast-feeding.


There were mixed comments concerning Anderson’s article. Some commentators provided more evidence concerning breastfeeding. Others criticized Anderson’s hypothesis stating that it is outdated. There were many supporters for Anderson’s arguments in which several praised his information concerning the medical and nutritional value of breastfeeding.


Anderson replies to his critics by reiterating his arguments about the duration and nutritional value of breastfeeding along with the subject of increased primate infant dependency. He also presents the argument that along with the human female breast, the human penis has evolved into an increased aesthetic role.

ALYSIA WESCOAT University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Anderson, Peter. The Reproductive Role of the Human Breast. Current Anthropology February, 1983 Vol.24(1):25-45


The female breast plays a major role in human reproduction by way of attracting potential mates and breast-feeding. The amount of times a woman breast-feeds is proportional to the length an infertility the women will experience after child birth. The effects of to breast-feeding are due to amenorrhoea-which is the loss of menstrual cycles and anovulation which is the loss of ovulation.

However, these affects are not permanent. The amount of time of anovulation and amenorrhoea depend on the number of times a woman breast-feeds. The !Kung, who are a native tribe of the South African Kalahari Desert, suckle their infants up to 60 times per day. This is in sharp contrast to a study of Edinborough mothers in which few fed their infants more than 6 times a day. The !Kung and Edinborough women spend approximately the same amount of time breast-feeding, though the !Kung sucked up to 10 times as much as the Edinborough women. For this reason, the !Kung have a longer period of infertility.

On a physiological level, amenorrhoea and anovulation are the effect of the increase of prolactin which causes the decrease of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FHS) and luteinising hormone (LH). Without proper amounts of FHS and LH, ovarian follicular development, ovulation and corpus luteum formation will not occur. High prolactin levels are maintained by the sucking stimulus on the nipple. Thus, high prolactin levels account for the infertility females experience while breast-feeding.


There were mixed comments concerning Anderson’s article. Some commentators provided more evidence concerning breastfeeding. Others criticized Anderson’s hypothesis stating that it is outdated. There were many supporters for Anderson’s arguments in which several praised his information concerning the medical and nutritional value of breastfeeding.


Anderson replies to his critics by reiterating his arguments about the duration and nutritional value of breastfeeding along with the subject of increased primate infant dependency. He also presents the argument that along with the human female breast, the human penis has evolved into an increased aesthetic role.

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

Anderson, Peter. The Reproductive Role of the Human Breast. Current Anthropology, 1983. Vol.24(1):25-45.

The general concern of the Anderson article is to bring awareness to the fact that the human female breast is an organ for reproduction, not sexual attraction. The author argues that women in Western society have stopped breast-feeding, which has resulted in misconceptions and awkward feelings regarding breast-feeding, which in turn has caused harm to the well-being of the child. The data used for the article presents a history of the role of the breast from that of reproduction to one of sexual attraction. The data was received from a wide range of sources, from journals of medical anthropology to zoology, as well as using examples of current research on breast-feeding among tribes in Africa. The outline begins in early hominid evolution with a discussion of the first signs of bipedalism, language acquisition, and brain growth. Anderson states that most of the brain growth had to happen after the infant was born, which required a longer period of infant-mother contact. Bonds were necessary between the mother and child in order to ensure the survival of the child so breast-feeding was often prolonged, sometimes past five years of age, which was demonstrated by Anderson using current research on tribes in South Africa. The article continues with a discussion of how the breast became an erotic organ. According to Anderson, the absence of external reproductive organs signaling ovulation in human females could be an indicator of how the breast became attractive to the opposite sex. He continues with a discussion of lactation as a means of birth control, using the South African tribe noted above. This group, according to Anderson, averages one birth every four years. According to the author this group actively participates in sexual activity during lactation, therefore the prolonged lactation must be the method of birth control. Anderson mentions the benefits of breast-feeding, including the antibodies the infant receives from the mother during feeding. The infant also benefits emotionally. The evidence cited regarding the African tribes show that these infants are nursed more often each day, and for many more years than are Western infants. The mother and infant are almost in constant contact. Anderson also believes that Western women are likely to feel embarrassed or disgusted about breast-feeding. Some refuse to nurse because they think that they can’t lactate, or that the breast is meant to be a tool for sexual attraction. Anderson wishes to remind Western society of the correct use of the breast, for the health and well-being of both mother and child.

Commentators offer their opinions to the research presented in the article. Most of these comments are not in agreement with Anderson. All of the contributors agree that the article was not developed enough, or in some instances, incorrectly. The material seems to be outdated and some of his material is found to be controversial or simply inappropriate. Specifically, the information on lactation and the dependence of the infant on the mother was commented on as being well outdated and implied this made the mother overly dependent on the father, making her and the infant a burden.

The author offers a reply to the commentators by providing more evidence of prolonged dependence of the infant on the mother, and in turn on the father by providing examples among the primate family. Specifically he gives examples of non-reproductive sex and sexual attraction among other non-human primates, such as langurs and chimpanzees. He continues to stand by his belief that breast-feeding is essential to the well-being of an infant by offering evidence of a law in New Guinea which outlawed artificial means of breast-feeding for the health of the child.

DANIELLE RICKLEFS-MITCHELL California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Arhin, Kwame. Peasants in 19th-Century Asante. Current Antropology, 1983.Vol.24(4): 471-480.

Arhin attempts to demonstrate, in the case of the Ghanan urban center of Kumasi and its neighboring villages, that the distinction between urban dwellers, Kumaseni, and rural villagers, kuraseni, is a distinctly indigenous one, and not something introduced after European colonialism. He argues that the cultivators in the villages surrounding Kumasi were “peasants” in political economic, and cultural senses. Arhin hopes his characterization of the 19th-century Asante peasants in the area of Kumasi will help lay the groundwork for future comparisons with other peasantries.

Arhin begins the article by stating his disagreement with Faller’s view that the cultivators in the highly centralized Asante chiefdom were politically and economically like peasants, but lacked the peculiar cultural characteristics of rural peasants to be classified as such. Faller maintains that the villagers became “peasants” in the cultural sense only after the onset of European colonialism. Similarly, the author disputes Howard’s contention that “the peasantry in colonial Ghana was created as a result of the integration of the Gold Coast and Ashanti (and later the Northern Territories) into the world capitalist system” (p. 471). Arhin counters these views by positing that the Asante peasantry developed as a consequence of the rise and growth of the Asante state long before the colonial period. He then defends this argument by discussing Asante political economy, the relations between the city dwellers and the villagers, and nkurasefo (villagers) as a social category.

The author argues that there was an awareness of the culture of Kumasi—an urban center whose population was large, dense, and diverse in terms of occupation and ethnicity, which differed from the rural indigenous culture. As evidence for this, Arhin says, “all of the 19th-century travelers to Kumasi commented on the elaborate culture of the urban Kumasi in contrast to the simplicity of the villages, and the shouting of ‘kuraseni’ as a term of abuse at an antagonist clearly antedated colonial rule” (p. 475).

Arhin concludes that rejecting the idea that an Asante peasantry existed prior to the colonial period necessarily means arguing that there is a qualitative difference between exploitation by the state and exploitation by international capitalism. Moreover, to do so on cultural grounds “is to deny that the capitals of the West African states were…clearly changing under the impact of forest-savanna trade, the enforced intermingling of peoples in consequence of conquest, and contacts with other races through trade” (p. 475).


The eight comments are evenly divided between praise and criticism. Arhins receives adulation from P. T. W. Baxter, David Brokensha, Christopher G. Okojie, and Enid Schildkrout. Baxter writes, “This paper so neatly disposes of the ideological uncertainties, and ethnocentric certainties, of the work of Howard and others” (p. 475). Schildkrout comment echoes Baxters on this point. Brokensha says, “carefully documented microstudies such as Arhin provides make a solid contibution to the formulation of a general theory of peasants in Africa (p. 476). Okojie congratulates the author on his “brilliant essay” (p. 478).

On the other hand, Carlos Buitrago Ortiz, J. S. Eades, Joel M. Halpern, and T. C. McCaskie point out some possible serious problems with the article. Ortiz says the paper is full of theoretical inconsistencies, such as Arhin’s “failure to differentiate between modes of production in different historical periods” and “lack of a dialectical and historical perspective” (p. 476). Brokensha, Eades and Caskie take the author to task for the antiquity of his references and failure to do justice to more recent literature on the 19th-century Asante. McCaskie asks, “Has nothing of relevance to Archin’s general concerns been published in the last 17 years?” (p. 477). Halpern says, “The article is perhaps more revealing about contemporary nationalism and the dominance of economic interpretations in some aspects of current social science than it is about the heuristic use of societal typologies” (p. 477).


In response to Brokensha, Eades and McCaskie, Arhin says although his references are old, his aim was limited to a specific case rather than examining the broad range of theoretical discussion on the subject. He says McCaskie suggests a number of sources that may have yielded more insight into 19th-century Asante peasants yet did not explain how these would have affected his views. Arhin expresses his puzzlement with Halpern’s comment about “contemporary nationalism.”

ALBERT T. ARMSTRONG California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)

Blumenberg, Bennett. The Evolution of the Advanced Hominid Brain. Current Anthropology December, 1983. Vol.24(5): 589-623.

This article focuses on the author’s hierarchical model of the evolution of the hominid brain. Specifically, the selective pressures that influenced the evolution are discussed. Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus afarensis are used as the models of small-brained hominids, while Homo habilis and Homo erectus are used as models of the earliest advanced hominid brains. Trying to determine a model for how the advanced brain first developed, the author delves into behavioral, social, and foraging activities. The author puts forward the proposition that these activities are not the cause of the advancement, but the result.

A wide range of disciplines is found within this article. Topics include: palaeoclimatology, archaeology, paleoanthropology, primatology, evolutionary theory, neurology, and genetics. Palaeoclimatological data for the Pliocene and Pleistocene are sifted through to determine whether a significant climate change occurred and the effects this would have on behaviors as related to evolution of the hominid brain. Evidence provided by palaeoclimatology suggests that a slight, but not significant, change in environment occurred. In accordance with this evidence, it does not seem likely that a significant change in ecology produced an advanced hominid brain. Bipedality is discussed in relation to a freeing of the hands so that more complex behaviors could arise. Behaviors such as tool making, carnivory, food sharing, and carrying of food and young are discussed in detail. Evidence from various sources finds that explicit selective pressures are absent. Genetic mechanisms (i.e. spread of alleles) are postulated as necessary in an evolutionary model and are considered in depth. Evidence for a gradualistic or rapid appearance of the advanced hominid brain is discussed. The author’s model finds that a rapid appearance is likely and also points out that only a few genetic changes are necessary for evolution.

In-depth discussion regarding alleles, transcription, mutation, and transposable elements occurs. The author finds that it is possible for the advanced hominid brain to evolve as a random event and independent from selective pressures. Aspects of brain structure and function, such as brain peptides and structural asymmetry are used as evidence of increasing complexity. A feedback effect between the advantageous adaptive behaviors and selective pressures is discussed. The author argues that this feedback effect allowed for enlargement and reorganization of the brain. The effects of calcium on brain components are considered. Increased calcium levels have proven to have an effect on cognition.

The commentaries have both positive and negative elements. The majority congratulate the author for approaching this wide-ranging topic and think he has appealing ideas. However, there are comments regarding the lack of data. Holloway, a reference cited numerous times throughout the article “complain[s] regarding the depth of understanding exhibited by the author in this paper” (603). Some specific issues that commentators were unhappy with or questioned were: the ability of chance to produce such large changes, inconsistency of dates regarding the origin of the advanced hominid brain, defining “what exactly constitutes the advanced hominid brain” (604) and complex cognitive abilities, and contrasting published data.

Blumenberg’s reply states that he is “grateful to the commentators” and for “provid[ing] valuable new information” (610). He goes on to “thank Holloway for bringing to [his] attention several possible misinterpretations” (610). Blumenberg gives explanation to Holloway’s concern and clarifies the confusions. Also explained are the specifics of complex cognitive abilities and his reasoning for the dates he chose. Further comments are made in reference to Vrba’s “adjunct data on paleoclimatology” (611). Blumenberg clarifies his “event” regarding the appearance of complex hominids, adds “two powerful molecular models for speciation”, and closes with an agreement that the topic is “wide-ranging” and has an “unavoidable superficiality”.

ALYSIA WESCOAT University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Blumenberg, Bennett. The Evolution of the Advanced Hominid Brain. American Anthropologist December, 1983 Vol.24 (5):589-623

Bennett Blumenberg claims that the appearance of the advanced hominid brain is not due to the development of tool making, hunting nor food sharing. Instead, Blumenberg proposes that such activities are in fact the products of the advanced hominid brain. Blumenberg sets to develop a model of the process in his article “The Evolution of the Advanced Hominid Brain”.

Blumenberg’s model begins with the palaeoclimatological data. He feels that climate change during the Pliocene and Lower Pleistocene could provide clues to selective pressures affecting the hominid genome. Blumenberg is also interested in the morphological and behavioral adaptations of the small-brained gracile australopithecines to their African ecosystems throughout the Pliocene and Lower Pleistocene. Blumenberg is also interested in the behavior of the great apes as a model to understanding the evolution of the human brain.

Blumenberg begins his argument with definitions. For example, A. africanus and A. afarensis exemplify small brained gracile hominids. Tables with endocranial volumes are given, one displays the information for small brained Plio/Pleistocene Hominids, the other the endocranial volumes ot eh earliest advanced hominid brain.

Blumenberg’s biggest concern is why did the advanced hominid brains appear? Of importance is the time and rate of this change. Also of interest is the behavioral significance which could had arisen from this change.

Blumenberg presents an overwhelming amount of information on climatic trends in the Lower Pleistocene. He describes this change as one of a trend towards aridity which was gradual. Blumenberg goes into more detail regarding the climatic changes. His conclusion was that the advanced hominid brain first appeared while the climatic environment was calm, undergoing no apparent significant change.

Tool making, Blumenberg claims did not create a evolutionary change towards the advanced hominid brain. To support this statement, Blumenberg cited studies of tool usage by apes and other animals. The conclusion to tool making is that in light of tool usage by non hominids that tools found within small-brained gracile Pliocene hominids should be credited to them. Therefore hominids have been making and using tools while having a small-brain. These small-brained gracile australopithecines were well adapted to their environment.

Blumenberg’s model for the evolution of the advanced hominid brain contain features of both phyletic gradualism and punctuated-equilibria approach to macro-evolution. Blumenberg concludes that his model “…is clearly hierarchical and by that criterion independent of views of evolutionary change (including speciation) espoused by the modern synthesis.” (Blumenberg, 602)

The comments to Blumenberg were many and each one focused on a different aspect of the article. Ralph L. Holloway states that Blumenberg cited many of his papers. Yet this fact does not guarantee Holloway’s agreement with Blumenberg. In fact, Holloway states that he can’t recognize his own works anymore.

Many of the comments acknowledge the varied scope with which Blumenberg dealt with the topic of the advanced hominid brain. W. C. McGrew admits that “the wide coverage is impressive and far exceeds my breadth of knowledge.” (Blumenberg, 606) Silvana Borgognini Tarli expresses that Blumenberg’s arguments take from the following fields of research: comparative neurology, primate ethology, prehistoric archaeology, population genetics etc.

In his reply Blumenberg is grateful for all the comments which agreed with the different aspects of his model. He also takes his time to reply to Vancata and Holloway’s comments. Blumenberg also corrects some misunderstandings found in his article. For example, he clarifies that a hypothesis stated in his article was his. “The reference to Mountcaslte (1978) and Szentagothai (1973) is badly worded…” (Blumenberg, 610)

Blumenberg does a thorough job and covers all of the same he did in his article: definitions and taxonomy, palaeoclimatology data, pongid behavior etc. He does this acknowledging his commentators observations and takes their suggestions. An example is the fact that Blumenberg reads and comments on a paper which was recommended by McGrew.

ADELHEID SCHMITT, Cal State Hayward (Peter Claus)

Bricker, Harvey M. & Victoria R. Classic Maya Prediction of Solar Eclipses.Current Anthropology, Vol. 24, (1). Feb., 1983, pp. 1-23.

Mayan solar and lunar eclipses were predicted on a table in a book now named the Dresden Codex that used symbols and numbers to give their dates. Scientists have paralleled modern calculations and predictions with Mayan predictions in an attempt to develop a correlation between the two and attempt to understand how Mayans predicted these events. It was found that the Mayan predictions were nearly as (if not as) accurate as today’s predictions, even compared with today’s technology. There is hope of translating Mayan predictions into modern day predictions and using them up through the 22nd century.

The Mayan eclipse table is divided into three cycles; tzolkin (260 days), tun (360 days) and haab (360 days). These cycles are further divided into subsidiary cycles also consisting of numbers and glyphs, which, when combined, symbolize a specific date at which an eclipse is predicted to occur. Scientists’ attempt at translating these numbers into a modern prediction did not coincide well with their initial method named the Smiley Correlation. However a new method called the Goodman-Martinez-Thompson (GMT) Correlation produced a much more accurate correlation and proved the Mayan table to have no more than a three day error in either direction when calculating eclipses.

Scientists have attempted to ‘recycle’ the table to use it for modern predictions and correcting it for it’s small errors for the modern Julian calendar. This allows the table to be self-correcting and easy to use when calculating future eclipses. The table has proven to be very accurate and has successfully predicted eclipses the same as modern calculations. The date of this calendar is still being debated, however it’s accuracy is widely accepted.

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

Bricker, Harvey M. and Victoria R. Bricker. Classic Maya Prediction of Solar Eclipses. Current Anthropology, 1983. Vol.24(1):1-24.

The general concern of the Bricker article is to explain the Mayan eclipse table located in the Dresden Codex, or the hieroglyphic book of the Classic Maya. There has been research conducted for several decades on this subject, but the authors found that there were several errors with some previously published material and wish to correct this information using more modern research. The data used for the article was collected from journals, citing most of the information from one specific source. The article begins with an explanation of the eclipse table and how the Mayan calendrical system works, showing examples of how the days, months, and years break down and gives examples of how the cycles of numbers work. The article continues by offering evidence of the Mayan calendar’s accuracy by showing the results of tests given that compared it with the Christian calendar. Next, the authors show how the calendar and table can be used to predict solar and lunar eclipses. The authors first offer research by early scholars on this subject, and then turn to their modern source to provide more complex, detailed descriptions of the eclipse table, accuracy tests, and methods of usage. Illustrations from the original as well as the modern scholars are offered to aid in the understanding of this complex topic, and a model is constructed by the authors to show how the eclipse table works. The paper concludes with an explanation of how lunar eclipses fit into the Dresden Codex.

The commentators agree that the explanation of the eclipse table is an asset to research on Mayan culture, and the authors are respected for taking on such a difficult task. Most of the comments are positive, with the majority believing that the authors’ model was beneficial to explaining some of the shortcomings of previous research. The majority of negative responses centered on the complexity of the article, or how it was too convoluted.

The authors replied to any issue, complaint, or confusion offered by each commentator. They provide more research, specifically from one source, to explain what was convoluted in the article. They also cite specific parts of the article to answer questions from the commentators. They thank the commentators for their thoughts and state that they have learned more from their generous contributions.

DANIELLE RICKLEFS-MITCHELL California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Callender, Charles & Kochems, Lee M. The North American Berdache. Current Anthropology, 1983. Vol.24(4): 443-470.

Callender and Kochems’s article is an attempt to provide a comprehensive historical and socio-cultural overview of the berdache among North American Indians (north of Mexico), which they define as “a person, usually male, who was anatomically normal but assumed the dress, occupations, and behavior of the other sex to effect a change in gender status” (p. 443). The authors begin the article by clarifying certain misconceptions about the berdache that have resulted from fragmentary, poor in quality, or biased accounts dating back to the 16th century. The berdache status, they say, was often confused with homosexuality, hermaphroditism, or the practice of forcing female dress upon males who showed cowardice in warfare.

The authors list in Table 1 the 113 “North American Cultures Recognizing the Berdache Status” (p. 445). Although far from universal, the distribution (as shown in Fig. 1) extended over a large area, from California and the Great Basin to the Mississippi Valley and the Upper Great Lakes with a few occurrences beyond to the north. The distribution, they maintain, demonstrates little correlation between berdache status and the level of social organization. In terms of culture areas, evidence for the berdache is most scarce in the Arctic, Subarctic, Plateau , and the East. Based on early accounts, such as those of Cabeza de Vaca and Costanso, which consistently describe berdaches as more numerous, Callender and Kochems argue that the status must have been more common than later accounts suggest.

Transvetism and assuming opposite-sex occupations were two of the most widespread and significant features of the berdache status. The authors also discuss berdache sexual behavior, the most obscure and misconstrued aspect of the status, and the role of the berdache in warfare, social position, and the process by which individuals become berdaches. Regarding the latter, the “Main Factors Leading to Berdache Status” are presented in Table 2.


The article is generally well received by the commentators. Alice B. Kehoe writes, “At last a thorough, sensitive, and sensible survey of the berdache status” (p. 460). Italo Signorini says the work is a “ brilliant revival of the discussion of transvestism in North America” (p. 463). William K. Powers, Alice Schlegel, and Sue-Ellen Jacobs praise the authors for debunking Whitehead’s assumption that men were considered superior to women in American Indian societies.

However, Gisela Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, Judith K. Brown, and Italo Signorini argue that the authors should have clarified how the berdache of North America is related to or different from the larger worldwide phenomenon of transvestism. Signorini maintains that the authors’ reservations about “European” interpretations of the berdache as an essentially religious institution are unfounded since “supernatural powers are attributed to berdaches, and they have specific ritual responsibilities (funerals, conferring of secret names, warfare, and others)” (p. 463).

Jacobs describes the concept of the quetho, which she discovered while conducting fieldwork among the Tewa of New Mexico. According to Tewa elders, Jacobs says, quethos have a special relationship with the supernatural and are identified as children by their androgynous personality, “gentle” demeanor, and refusal to accept adolescent socialization into traditional men’s or women’s roles. Quethos are then raised as a third gender (clearly distinguished from homosexuality) and taught quetho behavior by an adult quetho. Jacobs says her Tewa informants make “a clear distinction between

quethos, homosexuals (gay men and women),women, men, and those who on ceremonial occasions dress in the attire of the opposite sex” (p. 460). The question, Jacobs says, is whether or not the quetho should be included in a revised definition of the berdache.


In response to Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, Brown, and Signorini’s comment regarding worldwide tranvestism, the authors say that they are ultimately interested with gender mixing on a broader scale, but deliberately limited their research to North America where the they “had better control of the literature” and because they wanted to reach a definition of this regional form before undertaking a broader comparative study.

Regarding Signorini’s argument that the berdaches were attributed supernatural powers and certain ritual responsibilities, the authors say this is true, but it does not appear to be universal, and therefore precludes them from supporting an exclusively religious explanation for the berdache institution.

Callender and Kochems say Jacob’s description of the Tewa quetho raises some questions. “Did other North American cultures have categories like the quetho? Should the definition be reworked to include quetho status, or was this a different development that perhaps inhibited the appearance of berdaches?” (p. 465). They say one possible way to fix this problem is to redefine the berdache as “one widespread variety of gender mixing, which subsumed such statuses as the quetho” (p. 465).

ALBERT T. ARMSTRONG California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)

Cashdan, Elizabeth. Territoriality Among Human Foragers: Ecological Models and an Application to Four Bushman Groups. Current Anthropology, February 1983. Vol. 24(1): 47-66.

In her article, “Territoriality among Human Foragers: Ecological Models and an Application to Four Bushman Groups”, Elizabeth Cashdan discusses and argues her points about the issue of human territoriality. She believes that certain aspects of behavior that are unique to humans, affect the costs and benefits of territory. She believes that the cultural capabilities of the human species change the way territories are defended. Cashdan begins by explaining the “ecological theory”. Territoriality can depend on controlling and limiting access to certain resources. Presumably, it could just be a way to disperse and space out. With territory comes competition for resources and increases as there become less and less resources. Cashdan discusses territory among human foragers. She believes that our long-term memory and our means of exchanging information will increase the cost of defending territory. Two types of defense are Perimeter Defense and Social Boundary Defense. Cashdan also refers to the comparison of four Bushman groups to help explain her thoughts on territoriality. Those four groups are: Nharo, G/wo, !Kung, and !Ko. Each of these groups differs in amount of resources available in their territory and is used to show the differences of each territory’s characteristics.

Most commentators agree that Cashdan has succeeded in her research and backup on food gatherer territoriality. Though there is some question as to Cashdan’s meaning of territoriality, she makes it clear that a person cannot apply animal territoriality to that of humans. Cashdan’s research has contributed much information to the study of hunter-gatherers.

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

Cashdan, Elizabeth. Territoriality in Human Foragers. Current Anthropology February, 1983. Vol.24(1):47-66.

The general concern of the Cashdan article is to develop a theory of territoriality among human foragers. She argues that the current theory is not able to explain all types of territorial behaviors among all groups of foragers. Cashdan argues that looking at some animal groups territorial behaviors may be useful in creating a model for a general theory of territoriality in human foragers. Cashdan uses her own experience in the field and that of other anthropologists to look at territoriality among four foraging groups to collect data for her general theory, which include the !Kung, !Ko, Nharo, and G/wi. She also presents data of the ecological theory of territoriality from journals in biology and ecology. She begins her discussion with a brief outline of the ecological theory of territoriality, or the popular theory at the time of this publication. The theory holds that where the benefits of a territory outweigh the costs, it is worth defending. Cashdan believes that territoriality among human foragers is better explained as an individual controlling, maintaining, and limiting access to its resources and environment. Cashdan explains that the ecological theory does not include other benefits that her theory does, such as foraging efficiency, which she describes as a territory being maintained and an individual limiting its access to others, which causes one to be more knowledgeable about what is being defended, and in turn creating a better forager. She finds many faults with the ecological theory, such as the inability for the theory to explain unpredictability and density in resource availability. When resources are sparse or unpredictable the ecological theory would hold that the territory wasn’t worth defending. Cashdan finds that this isn’t the case for many human foragers. Variabilities are listed that would affect food sources, one of which is rainfall. The environments and variabilities differ slightly among the four groups, yet the degrees of territoriality are quite different. She goes on to discuss possible reasons for the degrees of territoriality, including social communication and mobile networks. Cashdan looks at territoriality among animal groups and finds many of the same behaviors she found in the four foraging groups. She gives examples of primate groups that defend their territory to the death even if their resources are sparse and unpredictable. Cashdan shows that territoriality depends on many variables, not just costs and benefits.

Several commentators offer opinions on Cashdan’s research, and they all seem to be in consensus. The overall opinion is that the information is well researched and worthy of further research. There were some opinions that showed further development of certain ideas could have been beneficial to defend her theory. One example is predictability. Nearly every commentator remarked on how obvious and important this factor was on territoriality and how it could have been developed more. Most commentators note the importance in Cashdan’s observance of the territorial behavior of non-human animals and agree that this deserves more recognition.

Cashdan comes back with a brief reply to her commentators. Although she admits that her research was viewed favorably, she explains and defends her position to those who would oppose certain points. One commentator had a problem with the way she used the term ‘territory.’ She explains that her use of the term, along with her theory, are well received in a vast amount of literature, and calling it something else would not change the concept. She offers more evidence to back up the same points she made in the original article, making it even stronger.

DANIELLE RICKLEFS-MITCHELL California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Cooper, Eugene. Ten-Section Systems, Omaha Kinship, and Dispersed Alliance Among the Ancient Chinese. Current Anthropology June 1983 Vol. 24(3): (327-342)

The Shang and eastern Chou dynasties of ancient China have shown a striking relationship in the aspect of kinship. The Shang and Chou, now typically seen as the Liu and Ruey respectively, devised numerous systems that allowed for a pure dynasty to reign. There are an abundance of diagrams that Cooper gives to show the inter-family relationships that were used by both dynasties. These ten systems known as their “Heavenly System,” gave the way in which marriages were aligned by cross-cousin relations. This dualism described led to a type of matrimoiety that these dynasties used in securing the throne.

The Omaha kinship is distinct in that it calls not only to marry within one’s own family, but that one must marry within either their father’s or mother’s lineage. This arrangement also takes into account various degrees of polygamy. The Chinese dynasties showed great pride in their families, and wanted to keep the lines pure of blood. Cooper also addresses the progression that these matrimony lines took through each dynasty. The Shang and eastern Chou are depicted in a way that Cooper calls “variants” of the Omaha kinship that is described. The elaborate system comprised of charts gave implicit orders on which family members that a man could marry. As the Shang gave rise to the Chou, it is the underlying ideals of matrimony have remained throughout. The ancient Chinese culture of matrimony is shown to transcend these two dynasties, and thus show the uniqueness of an ancient culture.

BRIAN REBOLLEDO University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Graulich, Michel. Myths of Paradise Lost in Pre-Hispanic Mexico. Current Anthropology December, 1983 Vol. 24 (5)575-587.

Among the creation myths from ancient Mexico, Graulich presents a sampling of those which speak primarily of the first phase of the creation of the world. The author is writing to prove a unity among Mesoamerican themes regarding this subject and “to extract a common meaning and common core” to this content (575). Common themes are presented in myths from numerous Mesoamerican tribes across the region.

Mexican creation myths, similar to Christian creation myths, illustrate how the world came to be and thus how humanity developed. The ancient Mesoamericans believed the world existed between two poles; the first an “undifferentiated paradise”, the other a “hopeless existence”. In between the transgression of these two states is the world which includes a short life and an ultimate death. Mediation between these two states is mandatory and can only be achieved through some sort of sacrifice (575).

Graulich explains various myths from different groups of Mesoamericans, which include prominent figures such as Ometeotl, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca. Ometeotl, a god of duality, was known as the “Supreme Couple”. It is described as a god whose nature was divided into two parts. This separation exemplifies the belief that all things in nature have two aspects that compliment each other and act as the other’s opposite. The “Supreme Couple” is responsible for designing the universe. The other two figures are the creators. Graulich also discusses myths that focus on the creation of physical features of the universe such as the stars, night, water, rain, and the earth itself (576).

Another repetitive idea in these myths is the nature of the gods. Anger is a major motivating factor within Mesoamerican myth. Often the gods in paradise will banish kinsmen to earth in a fit of anger or due to disloyalty. An example of a very genesis-like myth describes a woman, Itzpapalotl, who either consumes or seizes “roses” in a garden. “The tree shattered and bled” after such defilement. Itzpapalotl was then exiled to earth by the gods (577).

It is important to note that there are many sources of creation myths and many misinterpretations. The codices upon which they have been inscribed are ancient and often through translation, their true meanings are lost. However, the author asserts that extensive research has been done to validate the accuracy of all myths and their convictions.

The majority of comments on Graulich’s work denounce the abundant use of Christian metaphors. Heaven and hell were not terms or concepts familiar to Mesoamericans. It is also pointed out that they did not perceive such concepts through a Christian’s perspective. The data regarding certain figures and myths was said to be obscured in a way that it conformed to the themes the author wanted to present. This data does not correspond to previous research completed by others. The term duality is mentioned by Van Zantwijk and defined as “ ‘not always opposite and complementary’ but sometimes ‘opposite or complimentary’”(583). The commentators conclude that such discrepancies in Graulich’s presentation must be thoroughly examined to authenticate the convictions made in the article.

Graulich addresses the comments; by thanking all of his critics and systematically responding to their praise and commentary. He mentions first his use of so-called “Christian influences” by giving credit to the Christian authors (581). The majority of authors who wrote the sources from the colonial period were indeed Christian Europeans or “literate and thus more or less Christianized Indians”. However, he defends his position by rationally stating, “ a monk would have thought twice before venturing to compare Christian and pagan beliefs”(585). Graulich restates his use of both ancient and modern materials in reference to the resources available for researching this topic. He ultimately defends his previous statements regarding the myths and their valid contextual explanations.

WENDY LEICHT University of San Diego (Cordy-Collins).

Guillet, David. “Toward a Cultural Ecology of Mountains: The Central Andes and the Himalayas Compared.” Current Anthropology, Vol. 24., No. 5., December 1983. p561

This article, “Toward a Cultural Ecology of Mountains: The Central Andes and the Himalayas Compared” analyzes cultural patterns of mountainous region populations amongst Andean and Himalayan societies. This study compares mountain-dwelling populations in the Central Andean and Himalayan region using two major divisions of interpretation: “Approaches to Organismic Interaction in Mountain Environments” and “Production in Mountain Environments.” The first is subdivided into four categories: Geoecology-the “interrelation of human and biological features,” Vertical Control- the utilization of vertical life zones for human exploitation, Cultural Adaptation- the occupation and strategies for vertical control amongst cultures, and finally Alpwirtschaft- the association of occupation of vertical and horizontal space amongst peoples and animals in relation to time, space and communal control. The latter, “Production in Mountain Environments” suggests a framework in which cultural patterns of adaptations may be observed and understood. It is comprised of four topics: Vertical Production Zones- response of human populations and occupations of space to environmental factors such as climate and altitude; Overall Production Strategy- a population’s tendencies and strategies for specializing in a single product or incorporating a multitude of exploits, Integration of Space and Time- spatial and temporal factors determining production strategies of specific exploits, and lastly Agricultural Intensification- the internal and external pressures influencing agricultural intensification. The article concludes of the two mountain regions studied three major elements commonly characterized mountain adaptations: 1). An array of vertical production zones, 2). Population choice for overall production strategy of exploitable vertical production zone, and 3). The potential for change in strategy limited to the constraints of the mountain environment.

JILL JOHNSON University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Holy, Ladislav; Bousfield, John; Deregowski, J.B.; Howe, L.E.A.; Jacobson-Widding, Anita; Jahoda, Gustav; Kesby, John D.; Williams, Don. The Structure of Folk Models.Current Anthropology February, 1983. Vol.24(2):89-100.

This journal article contains reviews of a collection of essays in a book involving folk models edited by Ladislav Holy and Milan Stuchlik. The pages contain the table of contents and the preface included in the book, as well as responses by commentators who read the book. Following the commentators’ responses are a few remarks by Holy regarding the opinions of the commentators. Holy explains that the book was an outlet for anthropologists to include their information on this broad topic in one volume, even though the purpose of each paper may have been very different, if not being in total disagreement with the others. Holy explains the purpose of his paper is to prove that a person’s concept of their own actions, or their notion for being, forms their own reality. The overall purpose of all of the papers is to show the complexity of a person’s reality. He goes on to argue that these realities are not random. They are interrelated with other aspects of their world. Furthermore, the authors believe that this interrelated phenomenon is evidenced by the research offered by the contributing authors of the book.

The majority of the opinions offered by the commentators are negative. The authors of the book did not use the term ‘structure’ in the traditional sense. Most commentators found fault with this. Most believe that if the term ‘model’ is used in the traditional sense, meaning representation, the model would be structured. It was often mentioned that the material is not fully developed. Another issue is that there were too many assumptions and not enough facts. The quantitative data offered is said to be unclear and too simplistic for what it is supposed to explain. Overall, most of the commentators agree that the book was hard to follow and even sexist at times

Holy follows the commentators with a reply to their remarks. He sticks to the big issues brought up by the commentators. When replying to the comment on the loose meanings of ‘structure’ and ‘model’ Holy offers work by several anthropologists who believe that these terms can hold more than one meaning, as long as the meaning is clearly defined. The author offers more evidence for each of the noted problems, sometimes offering more evidence than was given in the original text. Finally, Holy states that although some of the commentators will still not agree with his work, he believes the models and structures are an anthropologists own constructs and should be viewed as such as long as he does not replace the participant’s meaning with his own.

DANIELLE RICKLEFS-MITCHELL California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Holy, Ladislav; Bousfield, John; Deregowski, J.B.; Howe, L.E.A.; Jacobson-Widding, Anita; Jahoda, Gustav; Kesby, John D.; Williams, Don. The Structure of Folk Models. Current Anthropology February, 1983 Vol.24(1):89-100.

The Structure of Folk Models is a book review of a collection of essays; a volume of essays was originally presented during the Annual Conference of the ASA in April 1980. The term “folk model” is used to describe people’s personal notions about their world and the word “structure” is used to illustrate a group of interrelated properties. The volume revolves around the idea of observable reality and people’s actions, which are a result from the knowledge they have acquired from their surroundings, creating a reality. The problem is presented with the relationship between the anthropologist’s models and folk models. Many of the scholars commented on this and provided the conclusion that humans have the ability within their knowledge to reflect, and this leads to the production of their personal folk models. The essay also brings up questions about the known methods for participation observation and the process of discussing and interviewing. Scholars continue to interpret the article and provide suggestions for improvement and ways in which the author can strengthen their thesis. The use of multiple scholars opinions of the article convinces the reader to believe that the essay has problems that need to be fixed. The authors of the essays, Holy and other authors, then respond to the reviews and mention that all of the scholars have varying ideas of social reality. This provides the reasoning for the different responses of those who reviewed the essay. The authors claim that their reason for the essay was to comment on the idea that epistemological and ontological issues should be debated.

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

Karp, Ivan and Maynard Kent. Reading the Nuer. Current Anthropology Aug-Oct, 1983 Vol.24:481-503.

According to Karp and Maynard, Evan’s Pritchard’s 1940 monograph The Nuer rouses debate throughout the anthropological world. The purpose of the paper is to show the different perspectives of the Nuer that are investigated by scholars and show the inconsistencies found in Pritchard’s monograph. The main discrepancy is said to lie in the difference between the two halves of the book: the first is an emphasis on modes of livelihood and the second part is political institutions. Pritchard’s book is hard to understand because of the predisposition of anthropology to make authors representatives of particular schools of anthropology. It is this stereotyping that helps to create stress and disorder between different anthropological disciplines.

Karp and Maynard explain three issues in the book involving social order, discrepancy between norms and action and observable relationships between groups. Despite this, Karp and Maynard content that the three ideas that are important in Pritchard’s book are logical principles, cultural idioms and patterns of action. This leads us to the understanding that Pritchard ultimate concerns of history and anthropology is in the patterns of society and culture. This is evident in the first half of the book, which focuses on modes of livelihood of the Nuer. He establishes cattle as the Nuer dynamic, which is the link in many social relationships. Cattle provide the linking relationship between the mode of livelihood and social order. An example of this occurs when the Nuer must travel far to waterholes. During this time they must stay in neighbor villages and maintain good relationships with other tribes. It is this emphasis on cattle, which creates a disparity in his ethnography. By focusing solely on the relationships created by cattle, Pritchard overlooks the activities of women within the Nuer community. He does not explore the sex roles or rituals. This creates a disregard for the relationship between production, social reproduction and inequality with in the tribe.

Another final aspects that Pritchard focuses on in his book include lineage formations and clans. He intimately details the structural form of clans. Overall Pritchard does a good job exposing the Nuer societies’ structure and human action.

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

Karp, Ivan & Maynard, Kent. Reading The Nuer. Current Anthropology, 1983. Vol.24(4): 481-503.

Karp and Maynard attempt a rigorous re-examination of E. E. Evans-Prichard’s 1940 monograph The Nuer. They say the purpose of their article is twofold. First they wish to demonstrate that the different interpretations of The Nuer made by scholars with diverse theoretical backgrounds are “the result of a tendency to privilege one factor or another of what is in reality a multicausal explanation” (p. 481). Second, the authors suggest that the conflicting views in the literature regarding the The Nuer can be resolved by a closer reading of the book itself.

While the monograph is often interpreted as presenting divergent materialistic and idealistic explanations in its two halves, “modes of livlihood” and “political institutions,” the authors argue that there are actually three distinct elements that transcend this dichotomy: 1) the physical and social environments associated with the material factors of production, 2) the values that form the content of “Nuer cultural systems,” and 3) the logical principles which structure all such values. Moreover, Karp and Maynard maintain that Evans-Prichard describes a relationship between social order and human agency that ties the text together as a single argument. “Social order enables Nuer to act,” they say, “while human agency constitutes the dynamic whereby social order is reproduced” (p. 482).

Karp and Maynard express dismay regarding the tendency in anthropology to stereotype authors as representatives of conventional or competing theoretical orientations, such as the maligned category of “structural-functionalism,” and then to entirely dismiss an entire body of work which might provide important insights for current thinking. They say, “It is with this in mind that we hope to show that Evans-Prichard’s work has relevance for theoretical issues in contemporary anthropology such as the reproduction of sociocultural systems” (p. 482). The article provides a comprehensive survey of previous interpretations of The Nuer followed by the authors’ deconstruction and interpretation of the text.


Of the eight comments, the majority are critical. Richard Huntington and Philip Carl Salzman praise the work. Huntington says, “I congratulate the authors on providing the finest overall analysis of The Nuer available and on leading us through the blind channels of the Sudd of anthropological interpretations of Evans-Prichard’s 1940 study” (p. 493). Salzman says the authors advocate a new multicausal and dialectical theoretical perspective, “one which they believe they share with Evans-Prichard and which they believe overcomes the blinkered viewpoints and restricted awareness of other current frameworks” (p. 499).

Some possible problems in the article are pointed out by John W. Burton, Peter Harries-Jones, Robert W. Hefner, M. C. Jedrej, Aidan Southall, and Robert C. Ulin. Burton and Southall suggest that the authors emphasize human agency within a monograph that deliberately excluded it from the analysis. Burton says, “To ignore, for the most part women’s roles in social reproduction simply because Evans-Prichard did the same seems to leave fundamental gaps in any model of any society” (p. 492). Harries-Jones argues that Evans-Prichard’s treatment of structure and human agency is essentially worthless for modern anthropology because of its narrow equilibrial, universalistic, and idealistic tendencies. Jedrej and Southall found the article difficult and confusing. While Southall expresses graitutude for the authors’ effort, he says, “The conceptual framework used to analyze The Nuer, and largely derived from it, is repeated unnecessarily yet with confusing variations.” Southall also takes the authors to task for initially dismissing the materialist/idealist dichotomy as an oversimplification but ending up with their own false dichotomies, such as “the necessary relationship between social order and human agency” (p. 495). Southall and Ulin suggest that Karp and Maynard speciously equate ecological adaptation with the mode of production. Finally, Ulin argues that the authors overlook “the social and historical processes [i.g. colonialism], that accounted for the generation and transformation of Nuer society” (p. 496).


Karp and Maynard reiterate that their aim in the article is to demonstrate that the two halves of the monograph are united by the “recognition of the interaction of human practical activity and social norms” (p. 497). While Evans-Prichard’s model of agency remains tied to the notion of equilibrium, the authors emphasize their contention that The Nuer represents a theoretical shift for Evans-Prichard away from positivist orthodoxy. Foe this reason, they reject Burton and Harries-Jones’ contention that the monograph is irrelevant to contemporary issues. Karp and Maynard say Burton’s assertion that the role of women in social reproduction is overlooked in The Nuer is contradicted by the

re-analyses by K. Gough and R. Hutchinson.

The authors agree with Ulin that a better consideration of the colonial context by Evans-Prichard would have helped to illuminate the problematic nature of reproduction. In response to Southall’s criticism of the conceptual confusion and inconsistencies in the article, Karp and Maynard reply, We deliberately set out to display differences in causality by using a variety of terms for determination” (p. 499).

ALBERT T. ARMSTRONG California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)

Kowalewski, Stephen and Laura Finsten. The Economic Systems of Ancient Oaxaca: A Regional Perspective. Current Anthropology August-October, 1983 Vol. 24 (4):413-442.

This article explores the study of ancient Oaxaca settlements, located in the southern region of Mexico. It is surrounded by mountains, which creates a valley where people began to establish their homes, eventually developing into communities. This article examines one particular valley, rich in resources, that was inaccessible to neighboring settlements, enabling these people to create a permanent boundary system. This is vitally important because it played a role in the creation of their centralized economy. Additionally, the archaeologist who studied these people used their artifacts to explain the resources available to them during certain periods of time.

The archaeologists focus on factors such as access to water, agricultural potential, settlement stability and other foundations that serve as determining factors as to how the settlement was run economically. The author has then divided the information they have found into phases according to the time period in which they existed to enable the complete examination of the information and fully understand how the ancient Oaxaca people lived. The article focuses upon the changes that occurred chronologically and how those changes have affected the economic system. As a result of the information collected, conclusions have been made about how these people’s lives were structured and the determining factors that created this lifestyle based around one prominent distributor, who in turn also served as the leader of the settlement.

In conclusion, the economic system of ancient Oaxaca is one in which the leaders in power distribute and determine the resources of the society. Someone had to be assigned to “control” the resources at hand which resulted in a regional system requiring a single leader. The “economic variation in this particular historical sequence was largely determined by the changing functions and degrees of chiefly or state power” (p. 425).

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

Kowalewski, Stephen A. & Finsten, Laura. The Economic Systems of Ancient Oaxaca: A Regional Perspective. Current Anthropology, 1983. Vol. 24(4):413-441.

Kowalewski and Finsten attempt a novel archaeological study of the availability of social systems to produce and distribute resources throughout their populations. Using the Valley of Oaxaca as their area of study, the authors specifically wish to address such questions as: “How did people fare economically in early chiefdoms and states?” and “What determined the degree of wealth stratification?” (p. 413). More broadly, Kowalewski and Finsten hope their research will contribute to the development of concepts which can link archaeological observations with one or another bodies of theory in economic anthropology.

The authors examine eight categories of information for the regional pre-Columbian economy of the Valley of Oaxaca. Included are variables reflecting production and distribution of goods and resources, elite items as well as ubiquitous household objects. The study diachronically assesses the relative amounts of scarce items in the system, including pottery and obsidian, and then determines who had regular access to certain resources and who did not. The authors propose that such an investigation can shed light on long-term structural aspects of economic systems. Data for the study was collected during fieldwork for the Valley of Oaxaca Settlement Pattern Project which was completed in August 1980. The fieldwork consisted of a systematic regional surface survey over every square hectare of the valley, mapping the distributions of the visible settlements, and noting artifactual and environmental information.

The article includes several tables and figures, including a Valley of Oaxaca Archaeological Sequence (Table 1), Economic Measures for the Valley of Oaxaca (Table 2), Artifacts per 1,000 Population in Single-Component Sites (Table 3), and a correlational model showing strongest associations between the economic measures in table 2 (Fig. 7). Using cluster and correlational analysis of their data, the authors conclude that “elite interests in locally produced income, recruitment and support of followers, and perception of military and territorial security, we think, were the driving forces in the evolution of this political/economic system” (p. 425). How people fared economically in early chiefdoms and states depended on the disposition and objectives of political power. Control of resources by regional and local elites had considerable negative effects on overall availability of resources. Regarding wealth stratification, however, there are suggestions that those who lived in closer proximity to politico-religious centers had access to more artifactual goods.


The many comments on the article are diverse, ranging from Ezra Zurbow’s praise of the paper as a “tour de force” to George L. Cowgill’s harsh criticism of the work as “an impenetrable tangle of weak data, ambiguous summary variables, and apparently some outright errors” (p. 429, 435). Overall, the commentators seemed to have a general consensus that, although the article offers the possibility of a new direction toward more collaboration between archaeology and ethnology regarding the study of regional political economy, there are considerable deficiencies in the data and problems with the statistical analysis, which must call into question some of their conclusions. For instance, Brenda Sigler-Lavelle points out that “the artifacts (tools, ceramics, obsidian, etc.) from which some of the inferences are drawn were obtained only from surface collections, many of which were from disturbed multicomponent sites” (p. 433). Cowgill says contributions from a few large sites, like Monte Alban, are probably skewing their data through the swamping of most diachronic variation in smaller sites.


Finstin and Kowalewski argue that their results stand firm despite deficiencies in their artifact measures. “They are not a product of a few large sites’ swamping temporal variation in smaller sites, as Cowgill suggests,” nor are they attributable only to sampling error “because of our reliance on surface material” (p. 439). Higher degrees of political control by regional and local elites resulted in the skewing of scarce resources toward administrative centers, while lower degrees of political control led to a generally favorable distribution of resources throughout the population, although income disparities may have been greater in some of these cases.

ALBERT T. ARMSTRONG California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)

Meachan, William. The Authentication of the Turin Shroud. Current Anthropology June, 1983 Vol.24 (3) :283-311.

The presumed burial cloth of Jesus Christ has been a center of controversy since 1578 writes the author, William Mechan. The first known exhibited display of the shroud (cloth worn by Jesus) was in 1357 in France. William Meachan does a good job of illustrating the pros and cons of why it is / why it is not the shroud of Jesus Christ, and he leaves it up to the reader to conclude the decision. There are major questions of authenticity involving the shroud because of how difficult it is trace it back to the times of Jesus’ life. Research says that the imprint made by Jesus on the shroud shows that it was “anatomically flawless down to minor details”(285). Tests have shown that the body was whipped repeatedly, had contusions on the knees, and there existed nail wounds located on the wrists where he was nailed to the cross. The shroud of Turin Research Project concluded that it is nearly impossible to establish conclusive evidence of the legitimacy of the shroud possibly worn by Jesus Many think of these tests as conclusive evidence that the shroud is, in fact, the one worn by Jesus.

On the other hand, some believe the “blood” stains were actually painted on , while one artist even at the time of the shroud’s finding, confessed to painting the blood marks. This again, is only an interpretation through history of what could have happened. Some archeologist have shown nailing of the wrist and feet, motion on the cross, and that the Middle Eastern origin is authentic. Other important features that supposedly demonstrate its authenticity are the cuts to the head area and nailing wounds on the side. There seems to many, substantial evidence that this has to be the shroud of Jesus Christ.


The comments of this article varied in response. Some of the readers like the article and some did not. One reader said that the findings of this article, vary from previous articles and finding they read previously. One person said that he found the article and the work put into the findings to be extremely satisfying and in depth. The person had been doing similar research on the Shroud and came up with similar results. On the other hand, a few people believed that the article failed to come up with concrete argument for the authenticity of the Shroud. Along similar lines, some say that the article shows bias and does not give sufficient data to support any reasonable arguments.


The author of the article, comes back attacking the legitimacy of the claims of the readers who critiqued his writing. He tried to disprove the arguments and facts of the readers saying that they were wrong in their opinions. He commented on the thought that, he was too distracted on the religious aspect, which some readers viewed as bias. Meachan says that the notion of religious bias is false, that he was stating a opinion of the authenticity of the Shroud through a religious perspective. Lastly, he strongly stands by his comments made in the article and say that he has proof to backup claims.

JAMES MONACO University of San Diego (Dr. Alana Cordy -Collins)

Osterling, Jorge P. and H. Martínez. Notes for a History of Peruvian Social Anthropolgy, 1940-80. Current Anthropology, June, 1983. Vol.24(3): 343-360.


This article attempts to highlight and link the various aspects of the professional phase of development of social anthropology within Peruvian universities by chronologically presenting various institutions or projects that have been established. The nine major people or institutions that have contributed greatly in the development of Peruvian social anthropology include: Luis Valcárcel Vizcarra, the Virú Project, the Instituto Indigenista Peruano, the Peru-Cornell Project, the Puno-Tambopata Program, the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, the Pontificia Universidad Católica

del Perú, the Instituto Lingustico de Verano, and the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos. More recently, many new centers for social research that have been established.

Osterling breaks down the various contributors under specific subtitles and

describes the goals or the accomplishments for each institution or project. Luis Valcárcel Vizcarra published several articles dealing with various issues of prehistoric Peru and helped to establish two separate institutes within the Museo Nacional de Historia and the Museo de la Cultura Peruana. The Virú Project brought together both American and Peruian professors and to study the people who currently inhabit the Virú Valley. The goal of the Instituto Indigenista Peruano was to research various aspects of aboriginal populations which ultimately resulted in the publication of a journal. The Peru-Cornell Project had students perform strategic intervention in economically depressed populations throughout the Americas by raising the standard of living. The United Nations established the Puno-Tambopata Program in which social anthropologists visited various Latin American countries that contain a large proportion of Indians and created a regional plan to solve local problems based on the individual needs of the countries. The Plan Nacional Para la Intergración de la Población Indigena was created to raise the consciousness of the Indians in regard to attempting to resist the exploitative system they were subjected to by the mestizo population of Pisac. The formation of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM) marked the beginning of the institutionalization of social anthropology in Peru. The following people actually contributed to the formation of UNMSM: Ozzie G. Simmons, Jehan Vellard, François Bourricaud, Henri Favre, Juan Comas, and John V. Murra just to name a few. The Seminar on Anthropology presented in 1953 at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, represented the beginning of social anthropology at the university which continued to develop due to the diverse theoretical views and methodologies of the professors. The Instituto Linguistico de Verano has contributed greatly to the advancement of knowledge regarding little known languages through the translation of the Bible. The Instituto de Estudios Peruanos encourages the presentation of research results while also contributing to the publishing of social anthropology studies conducted in Peru. There are also several new centers that have been created since the 1970s that encourage the social study of ethnic minorities within Peru.


The authors of the article accomplished their goal in that they provided a detailed list of people and institutions that contributed to the evolvement and development of social anthropology within Peru, from a Peruvian’s point of view. However, their goal must not have been to clear for the biggest complaint within most of the commentaries was that the content of the article was to general and vague.


The authors claimed that some may have misinterpreted their intentions behind the article which was to present only notes of the history of Peruvian social anthropology.

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

Osterling, Jorge P. & Martinez, Hector. Notes for a History of Peruvian Social Anthropology, 1940-80. Current Anthropology, June 1983. Vol. 24(3): 343-360.

The purpose of this article is to provide a straightforward preliminary sketch of the professional phase of the development of social anthropology in Peru. Osterling and Martinez attempt to present a descriptive chronological outline of key people, projects, and institutions that have been the major contributors to the development of professional Peruvian social anthropology. They argue that such a document is urgently needed before scholars get involved in sophisticated discussions or polemics about possible limitations in the work of modern Peruvian anthropologists. Therefore, the authors say the article represents a crucial first step, hence the title “Notes…. ,” toward a critical analysis of more than 40 years of professional anthropological research in Peru.

The article is organized chronologically with fairly comprehensive and detailed sections describing the noteworthy contributions of many Peruvian and foreign scholars, projects, and institutions to modern Peruvian social anthropology. For instance, Osterling and Martinez argue that the institutionalization of the teaching and practice of Peruvian anthropology began in 1931 with the establishment of the Museo Nacional in Lima under the direction of the politician, historian, and ethnologist Luis Valcarcel. The authors begin here and proceed to the present, i.e. 1983. These sections are subtitled as the following: Valcarcel, The Handbook of South American Indians, The Viru Project, The Instituto Indigenista Peruano, The Peru-Cornell Project, The Puno-Tambopata Program, The Plan Nacional Para la Integracion de la Poblacion Indigena, The Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, The Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, the Instituto Linguistico de Verano, The Instituto Estudios Peruanos, The New Centers for Social Research, and The Situation Today.


Teofilo Altamirano says that the article is an accurate summary of the major stages in the development of Peruvian social anthropology, but overemphasizes the contribution of the Lima-based anthropologists. More could be said, Altamirano argues, about anthropological research being carried out in provincial universities.

Henry D. Dobyns says the article lacks mention of Native Andean American high-altitude adaptation discovered by Carlos Monge Medrano who directed many years of research of this biological phenomenon at the Instituto Indigenista Peruano. Dobyns emphasizes the influence of anthropology on government policies and programs in Peru. Also, more studies outside of Vicos, Dobyns says, were carried by the Cornell Peru Project staff and published than the authors indicate.

Paul L. Doughty comments that the article is a “concise and evenhanded summary from a Peruvian point of view” that helps us to understand the recent international growth of anthropology (p. 351). The Handbook of South American Indians requires a modern successor to bring us up to date on the region and provide a new orientation to a field that is increasingly enriched by anthropologists from all over the world.

Benjamin S. Orlove says, “the article does not present the debates within Peruvian anthropology which give it much of its vitality” (p. 353). Peruvian anthropology is closely tied to Peruvian society and debates tend to reflect conflicts within Peru and between Peru and the wider international order. A history of Peruvian anthropology, Orlove says, is undermined if it is not also a social history.

Henning Siverts comments that the paper failed to meet his expectations of presenting a history of the intellectual development of Peruvian social anthropology because it only offers “a list of names and dates …projects and institutions” (p. 353). This “boring” paper, Henning argues, also omits a number of the anthropologists, Peruvian and foreign alike, who have done substantial research in the Andes over the last decade, such as Andres Ferrero, Rafael Girard, and Henning Siverts (p. 353).

William W. Stein says, “This development has contributed greatly to Peruvian’s positive self-evaluation and striving for self-determination under conditions of imperialist domination. I have no criticism of their ‘first step,’ but, rather, eagerly await future works expanding and elaborating on the outline here” (p. 353).

James M. Wallace criticizes the authors for not going beyond descriptive note-listing, failing to include archaeology and physical anthropology in the article, and not discussing Aramburu’s 1978 critical evaluation of Peruvian anthropology.


Jorge P. Osterling responds that while Dobyns and Doughty supplement the information outlined in the article, Orlove, Siverts, and Wallace appear to have misunderstood their intentions, which were to put forth notes for a history of Peruvian social anthropology as only the first step in carrying out such a project. “We made the conscious decision,” Osterling says, “to prepare an article for CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY in the hope that it would generate…a discussion of people, issues, and trends that would ease the writing of major future publications” (p. 355).

ALBERT T. ARMSTRONG California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)

Smith, Eric Alden. Anthropological Applications of Optimal Foraging theory: A Critical Review. Current Anthropology December, 1983 Vol24 (5): 625-648.

This article is a summarization of the optimal foraging theory and the author also reviews the studies, which apply this theory to human foraging.

The general features of the optimal foraging theory are

• Foraging behavior as a response to variegated changes in the environment

• Foraging theory’s “explicit optimization approach to theory building”. (Smith 626)

• Usage of mathematical and graphical representation in order to decrease complexity.

• It “simplifies its analysis by dividing its subjects into discrete choice categories and by ignoring details of perceptual mechanisms” (Smith 626)

The justification of the foraging theory as it applies to human foragers is provided in three ways. It assumes that

• Human behavior is a result of natural selection,

• A variation in foraging methods is due to cultural selection,

• It’s an altered form of standard economic logic.

The foraging models include diet breadth, prey choice, patch choice, time allocation, group formation and optimal group size. The fine-grained diet breadth model presented by MacArthur and Pianka assumes that prey is encountered at random.

MacArthur and Pianka’s patch choice model attempts to explain patch choice by “postulating a trade off between declines in yield per unit time spent foraging in patches and a decrease in travel time between patches. Studies conducted by Hawkes, Hill and O’Connell on the Ache of Eastern Paraguay, Winterhalder on the boreal-forest Cree and Hames and Vickers on the Amazonian Indians are in accordance with the model.

Smith relates to group formation to foraging behavior and strategies on three grounds.

• Group formation negatively effects efficiency of individual foraging.

• Groups may be formed based on resource concentration

• “Individual foraging cooperatively may enjoy increased efficiency.” (Smith 634)

In terms of group size the author presents two models of optimal foraging group size

• Simple per-capita maximization model

• Band maximization model.

The author explains the applicability of this by way of studies done by Hill and Hawkes on the Ache, which are consistent with the two models.

The author concludes the article with the criticisms of the optimal foraging theory

• Simplification of model

• Reductionism according to which the model borrows theory form biology and applies it to social sciences and its limited analysis of individual decision.

• Reliance on energy harvest rate, which might be misleading, and the theory not taking into account stochastic variation.

The criticism of Smiths article comes from different angles. Charles Bishop argues that Smith ignores socio cultural variables and that his table 1 doesn’t take into account socio-cultural variables. Valda Blundell on the other hand is of the opinion that one must go beyond predictions and find out laws underlying human behavior. Elizabeth Cashdan argues that the quantitative test of optimal foraging theory have been “oversold” (Smith 643) Michael Casimir argues that the model doesn’t take into account seasonally fluctuating nutritional problems. Richerson suggests that optimization assumptions should be integrated with evolutionary theory. Eric Abela Roth says that the model is based on clearly defines assumptions and it fulfills the criteria of falsibility.

In reply to the criticism by Blundell the author states that the use of different types of rationales for justification of the model is what Blundell calls “theoretical pliancy” and that it is due to the immaturity of the field that it borrows concepts from a more mature field. While the middle level models are being related with theory but it doesn’t imply that one should wait to understand foraging behavior.

The author disagrees with Cashdan that the quantitative results of the optimal foraging theory are being over sold and that testing should be abandoned. To Smith it is important in terms of collecting better data and evaluation explanations. Bishop’s criticism of the table that it doesn’t include socio-cultural variables is off the mark as the model is a summary of work done by ecologists and not anthropologists.


Smith, Eric Alden. Anthropological Application of Optimal Foraging Theory: A Critical Review. Current Anthropology December, 1983 Vol. 24(5):625-651

This article describes the elements of optimal foraging theory and how it has been applied to the analysis of human foraging strategies. Eric Smith defines optimal foraging theory as “an attempt to specify a general set of ‘decision rules for predators’…based on cost-benefit considerations that are in turn deducible from first principles of adaptation via natural selection (627).” Smith discusses the several elements of optimal foraging theory: fine-grained diet-breadth model, patch-choice model, time allocation, marginal value theorem, and group size and formation. Smith discusses each of these in depth and explains how they are utilized in foraging theory using graphs and mathematical equations incorporated into the text. Smith gives the anthropological application of each model or theory as well as its’ pros and cons.

The biggest criticism of optimal foraging theory is that it can be used to explain foraging behaviors of a variety of animal species and is not specific enough to apply to human foraging strategies; which may be influenced by culture. Smith defends the use of optimal foraging theory and explains the benefits as well as the downfalls of using this theory in regards to humans. He does admit that foraging theory can only give us very generalized results and for more detailed analysis other measures should be taken. Despite its many downfalls, Smith strongly believes that this is a field that would benefit from further research and development.

Smith’s peers seem divided on his position. Some agree that optimal foraging theory can be used as an additional tool in foraging studies. Others are skeptical of the results of such a study. Criticisms include the theory is too general and mechanical to apply to humans. In Smith’s response, he does not take these criticisms head on but rather reiterates the limitations of foraging theory. Smith also encourages other to participate in its advancement and to formulate new models.

Clarity Ranking: 3
JESSICA MALDONADO University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)

Tellis-Nayak, V. Power and Solidarity: Clientage in Domestic Service. Current Anthropology February, 1983 Vol 24 (1):67-79.

As social hierarchies of the Indian caste system have directly affected the domestic service system, Christian ideology has also transformed the formal caste tradition and relations between patron and client. V. Tellis-Nayak’s study looks at the social and moral “differences” instigated by the introduction of the Christian culture with a separate belief and moral system. He attempts to analyze the strategies and negotiational exchanges within the institution’s settings. The four critical factors of these settings include: the character of domestic service, the location of the participants in the institutional system, the material and non-material resources available to them, and the socio-cultural ambiance. His study seeks to understand the patron-client bond as a distinct social exchange affected directly by the factors previously mentioned.

The setting of this study took place in Nanavoor, a town of 175,000 people in South India, and involved its Catholic Christians, which make up 18.2% of the population. Tellis-Nayak examines and breaks down the mistress-servant bond into the four elements, which characterize it: (a) unconditional proprietorship/dependence (b) primary affiliation (c) status distance and (d) reciprocity.

Following the thorough look into the mistress-servant relationship, Tellis-Nayak discusses the social conditions that “generate and sustain the system of patronage,” by analyzing (a) the socio-economic forces that create the system (b) the symbolic factors which legitimize it (c) the institutional framework that makes it possible and (d) the modes of control that help enforce it.

The conclusion highlights and presents the “noteworthy” features according to Tellis-Nayak. He points out that the mistress-servant relationship also involves other people in the community such as priests and other elite “intermediaries” who are involved with the needy and the affluent. Created are mutual expectations based on economic interest, moral responsibility, religious obligation, and communal and status considerations.

Tellis-Nayak also suggests that integration and acceptance of the caste symbolism into the traditions of the past, strengthening their religious identity within the Church and also defining their goals.

The third remark recognizes that because of isolation from legislative and liberal sources, the domestic service system is untouchable. The absence of cross-factional alliances, impersonal guarantees, and a weak market contribute to the success of domestic service institution.

Comments made by various colleagues suggest that the patron-client relationship is not as “vertical” as Tellis-Nayak claims. The majority of respondants did not see the “solidarity” aspect of his discussion and instead mention the frequent exploitation in the domestic service industry. Inhis “Reply,”, Tellis-Nayak addresses the feedback from each corresponding anthropologist, concluding with the confession that he may have undertated the structural dynamics of the patron-servant relationship.

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

Tellis-Nayak, V. Clientage in Domestic Service. Current Anthropology February, 1983. Vol.24(1):67-79.

The general concern of the Tellis-Nayak article is to present original research on the topic of the patron-client relationship in domestic service in south India, a relationship referred to in this paper as one of a “mistress-servant” (Tellis-Nayak 68) relationship. Specifically, the author wishes to look at the relationship between Catholic Christian mistresses and servants and compare this to the Hindu domestic service, or jajmani relationship. Tellis-Nayak also wishes to find other factors that contribute to the forming of relationships, or why mistresses chose certain servants. The relationship may vary from case to case, the extremes being one of a completely asymmetrical relationship based on honor, to an entirely symmetrical relationship based on equality. The data for this paper was collected by the author while doing fieldwork in south India over a five year period throughout the 1970s, The setting for the research takes place in an urban area known as Nanavoor, which is an anagram used to protect the identity of the participants, who very in age from the late teens to early thirties, are of the Christian faith, and are of both sexes. The data was collected using several different qualitative and quantitative methods including participant observation, interviews, and surveys. The data is arranged by giving a brief introduction of the different types of hierarchy in India, which he explains as existing to allow the movement of social goods. The article concludes with a discussion of the results from his five years in the field. Tellis-Nayak found that the mistress-servant relationships consist of four elements, including dependence, status, affiliation, and reciprocity. Furthermore, he finds that certain factors, such as the economy and symbolism in Indian society, allow for the elements listed above to be the glue that hold the mistress-servant relationship together. Some important results included show that the patron is not always the superior or dominant player in the relationship. It was often the servant who belonged to a higher caste, or who was as a more elite member of society. Also, the servants were not always chosen for their skills, but for reasons varying from honor, respect, or friendship.

The opinions of the commentators for the Tellis-Nayak article vary from complete agreement and admiration for his work, to opposing everything the author wrote. The majority of the commentators agreed that the author’s work was beneficial to the area of anthropology of work, as well as Indian studies. Some problems noted include the research being too simplistic, avoiding important information that could answer many questions, and that it asks more questions than it answers. One commentator believes that the author doesn’t address the gender issues that are involved in coed mistress-servant relationships. Another major concern among the commentators is that the economic factor is underdeveloped.

The author responds by addressing the specific issues mentioned by the commentators. The issue of the economy as a contributing factor to the patron-client is that discussing the economy on a structural level, as the commentators thought was necessary, would have taken away from the bigger issue of the relationship between the patron and client. Tellis-Nayak responds to the issues with more data from his original research in Nanavoor, without avoiding any topic brought up by a commentator. He also mentions that he believes some of the issues are minor and possibly irrelevant, but provides more data and explanation to satisfy the commentators.

DANIELLE RICKLEFS-MITCHELL California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Yi, Seonbok, and G. A. Clark. Observations on the Lower Palaeolithic of Northeast Asia.Current Anthropology April, 1983 Vol.24(2):181-202.

This article discusses Lower Paleolithic archeological finds from various areas of Northeast Asia. Citing a lack of clear evidence, authors Yi and Clark attempt to refute theories previously presented by archaeologist H. Movius, who generalized and mistakenly categorized Lower Paleolithic tool crafting techniques. They reject Movius’s theory of two distinct traditions, one characterized by handaxes and the other by chopper-chopping tools, each occupying a different geographical region in Asia. According to Yi and Clark, the evidence more accurately suggests a complex assortment of tools in various areas. Regions of Northeast Asia exhibiting evidence of Lower Paleolithic activity are considered as support to this claim. The largest and most significant Lower Paleolithic finds of this region have been in North China, and include a variety of chopping tools and flaking methods. The authors argue that the differences in tool crafting from one area to the next are significant, and thus the cultures of this time period cannot be readily sorted in any undifferentiated manner. Research in the area has increased after WWII, but many parts had yet to be thoroughly examined at the time of this article. Lower Paleolithic finds have been troublesome, due to difficulties in dating and culturally classifying materials. Further research is needed, although it is already clear to the authors that this area of Asia is much more complex than previously assumed.


Comments on this article include support for the idea that one should not be quick to classify evidence in the simple, general terms commonly used for the Lower Paleolithic time period, a practice that tends to view the evidence based on that of Europe. Some comments suggest that the article did not treat the topic as extensively as it should have, and that pre-WWII archaeology should also have been considered. Not all of the important sites were mentioned, and pertinent definitions were not included. Some commentators were uncomfortable with the level of criticism applied to H. Movius, especially since the article argues against Movius’s theories and yet adds little new insight.


Yi and Clark reply that their article was meant as a review of Movius’s work in light of the knowledge gained in subsequent years. They further point out the complexity of formulating an integrated theory to replace that of Movius, and state that they are not inclined to do so. They suggest that applying concepts and language representative of European archaeological evidence to Asia should not necessarily be avoided, but simply used with caution. Yi and Clark admit that more research is necessary to address all the concerns of such study in Asia.

MEGHAN LITTLE University of San Diego (Alana Cordy-Collins)