Current Anthropology 1987

Blumenschine, Robert J. Characteristics of an Early Hominid Scavenging Niche. Current Anthropology Aug.-Oct.. 1987Vol. 28(4):383-407

What problem or concern does the article address : The author, Blumenschine, argues that there exists a possible role for scavenging in the acquisition and consumption of meat by early Hominids that inhabited the Plio/Pleistocene period. He states “reconstruction of a possible hominid scavenging niche is considered a prerequisite to the development of criteria for the archeological recognition of scavenging.” (Pp 383)

What is the author’s basic argument: There is an ongoing debate among physical anthropologist about the relative importance of hunting versus scavenging in the consumption of meat by early hominids. “Historically, hunting was usually assumed to be the primary method of meat acquisition. Only a hand full of researchers proposed a possible role for scavenging.” (Pp 383) Recently a growing number of researchers have come to accept scavenging as an alternative hypothesis in need of testing and have proposed criteria for the archeological distinction of the two behaviors. Towards that end, this paper is considered a worthy effort by most of the reviewers.

How is the argument constructed: The paper describes the results of an actualistic study designed to assess the characteristics of scavenging opportunities available to early hominids in East Africa.

The study was conducted in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. The results are based on observations of the consumption by nonhuman carnivores of 264 fresh large-herbivore carcasses in a variety of settings. Two sets of observations relevant to the past are described: 1) the types of carcasses and carcass parts most regularly available to modern scavengers and 2) the ecological contexts, as defined by season, habitat type, the degree of competition for carcasses in which scavenging is most successful. The results are used in conjunction with Paleoecological data to suggest possible characteristics of an early hominid scavenging niche.

Blumenschine presents his data in the form of very specific and detailed tables that depict variables such as: carcass size, Herbivore type, persistence of the carcass (in hours), the species of predators and scavengers, and both seasonal and ecosystem differences. The author’s analysis suggests “…some broad features of the scavenging opportunities present in the East Turkana and Olduvai ecosystems during the Pli/Pleistoscene…” These features are suggested to characterize the fundamental scavenging niche of all East Africa scavengers. To access the likely characteristics of realized hominid scavenging niche, it is necessary to examine the relevant features of hominid adaptation. (Pp 393)

The author is careful not to overstate the importance of his study “ I have tried to demonstrate only that sufficient, specified scavenging opportunities and the means to exploit them were present…I am suggesting what scavenging by hominids might look like archeologically and outlining the classes of evidence that might be brought to bear upon the problem, most important of which is the skeletal-part data in relation to evidence for particular forms of butchery marks.”(Pp 394). Approximately half of the reviewers complimented this essay and research effort, the other half were pretty critical. It seems that the line was drawn depending upon whether the evaluator was a proponent of the theory that states hunting was the chief source of meat acquisition.

HUGO MORA-TORRES CSU Hayward (Peter Claus)

Blumenschine, Robert Characteristics of an Early Hominid Scavenging Niche. Current Anthropology August-October, 1987 Vol.28(4):383-407.

This article examines the scavenging patterns of early hominids in the Serengeti, Ngorangora, East Turkana and Olduvia Lake regions of East Africa during the Pleistocine era. Based on archaeological evidence, he attempts to explain early hominid opportunities of scavenging remains that had been discarded by nearby hunting animal species. He ultimately questions whether or not early hominids in this region were hunters, scavengers or actually participated in both.

Based on archaeological evidence, Blumenschine states that carcass size, hunter attributes and seasonal variation create the diversity in what types and when remains were left behind for scavenging. He also established that the spotted hyena was the most common predator to completely devour a carcass leaving little resources behind for the early hominid scavenger. Next to the spotted hyena, lions, cheetahs and vultures were the most common hunting species. However, they often only fed on accessible outer flesh and left behind the bone marrow and brain for later foragers. In order for the early hominids to survive they were reliant on adapting and dealing with co-habitating hunting species, seasonal variation and diverse ecological environments. In accordance with ecological concerns, early hominids developed stone tool technology that they adapted in order to manipulate to the full capacity of resources available. Therefore, they made hammer stone tools in order to extricate the marrow and brains from animal remains and scrapers to obtain left over meat.

The author uses a statistical approach to organize his investigation of scavenging opportunities for early hominids. His evidence relies upon data collected from Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater between August 1983 and June 1984. The author gives examples of graphs and tables to construct the information in a more understandable manner. However, in Blumenschine’s concluding remarks he states that he is only creating a theory based on the archaeological data and that the original context could possibly be different from what he proposed in his paper.


The comments are all relatively positive. Frequently it stated that his work was “welcomed” in the discussion of hominid subsistence activities. Some of the critics believe that Blumenschine’s theory was a possible explanation. However, in an improvement to the theory they interpreted that scavenging of meat year round would not have been the predominant form of protein and nutrient acquisition. Smith proposes that hominids possibly could have utilized roots and tubers as sources for food as a substitute when meat was not available. Marean added that an investigation of modern African environments would supplement Blumenschine’s model. The general consensus among critics was that Blumenschine’s work is substantial and provides new insights into the debate of subsistence of early hominids.


Blumenschine replies that he approves of the thought-provoking statements delivered. He personally addresses each critics primary concern and develops and/or defends them further with his own personal theories. He believes that some readers interpreted misunderstandings in his data and he clarifies those questions. However, important statements by the critics are taken into consideration and in certain cases he actually agrees with the critics’ remarks.

SALINA WIGHT Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Bogucki, Peter. The Establishment of Agrarian Communities on the North European PlainCurrent Anthropology February, 1987 Vol. 28(1):1-24

In this article Bogucki is trying to assert how food production was introduced to indigenous foraging communities in the Northern European Plain. His data is based on recent findings in human ecology and archaeology. Boguki’s discussion revolves around the interaction between the hunter-gatherer communities of the Late Mesolithic and the agrarian communities entering their areas. How does he prove this, and ultimately, that the hunter-gatherers gradually accepted an agricultural lifestyle? He begins by finding ways in which interaction with the agrarian communities could assist the hunter-gatherers; cultivated wheat and barley is one idea. It is also suggested that the early agrarian communities did not originate in the North European Plain but came from Early Neolithic cultures of the Central European loess belt. It is through the culture and pottery of the loess belt cultures that he provides his data. Through looking at this culture he finds ways in which they populated areas and settled communities. Within this argument he associates the benefits of interaction for these two communities, for instance it would be beneficial for the hunter-gatherer communities to interact with the settled communities, which would result in a symbiotic relationship, each using resources of the other to get the best resources from the land. In the end the author asserts that the agriculturists would have benefited by getting protein while the hunter-gatherers would have received carbohydrates. He makes the connection by again returning to evidence of another culture called the Funnel Beaker culture, which is the earliest evidence of agricultural populations on the Northern European Plain. He claims this was an agriculture economy and by looking at the settlement patterns (large residential base) and artifacts left behind he finds evidence that interaction most likely occurred. Boguki then proceeds to claim through cultural artifacts left over additional influences of the agrarian communities on the former hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The cultural artifact that provides his data are long barrows that are found in settlement patterns which indicates a merging of two different communities in which the agrarian economy distinguished this new culture and won in a sense.

Comments: The author’s argument about the interaction between farmers, herders and foragers is persuasive. Even further, the work and hypothesis that he forms is important to the archaeological knowledge of Europe. However, the claims that he makes seem to be occurring or are parallel all over Europe not necessarily just in the area of the Northern European Plain. There are some problems with his discussion resulting in a good hypothesis it seems as if more of a synthesis of the research that has been done in Europe. Additionally, he needed to spend more time providing data for the forager-farmer interaction.

Reply: It might be true that the data is insufficient but this does not take away from the fact that the article is working to create a hypothesis for the acceptance of agriculture by the forger populations of Europe. It is worthwhile to use ethnographic analogy to help to form an archaeological hypothesis.

DENICE KRETZ California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Bogucki, Peter. The Establishment of Agrarian Communities on the North European Plain.Current Anthropology February, 1987 Vol. 28(1):1-21.

The main point of this article is to establish the relationship between hunter-gatherers and early farmers of North-Central Europe. Bogucki asserts that the first agrarian communities on the North European Plain were colonists from major Neolithic cultures of the south rather than indigenous people. He uses his own fieldwork and the current archaeological record of assemblages of pottery sherds and flint tools as a basis for his studies. He incorporates the work of other archaeologists and anthropologists into his argument and has carefully considered their work in his article and hypothesis. Most of his data is taken from sites in northern-central Poland where he has done his own research. He states that there was a symbiotic relationship between hunter-gatherers and early farmers in order to exchange protein and carbohydrates. He advances that these two groups formed an exchange relationship when they came in contact that was mutually advantageous rather than exploitative. This then, led to hunter-gatherers becoming more sedentary and adopting the farming method of making a living.

Bogucki discusses other early peoples of the North European Plains and compares and relates them in order to prove his hypothesis. The Linear Pottery sites of the Polish Lowlands were clearly not indigenous peoples according to Bogucki and they were the first to engage in food production. There is lengthy discussion of Lengyel subsistence strategy of the Polish Lowlands as based on the domestication of plants and animals to supplement wild food. He relates this to, and draws conclusions about it, that may be relevant to the North European Plain as both cultures dealt with similar climatic patterns including winter dormancy where storable food is a primary concern. The Funnel Beaker culture was the earliest indigenous food-producing group in the Northern European Plains and Bogucki discusses the evidence for this in the archaeological record. Tombs and burial monuments appeared in the form of long earthen barrows for the Lengyel farmers and burial mounds for the Funnel Beaker people, clear evidence of a change in societal structure.

Bogucki closes by stating that farming was introduced to this area from outside at a time when indigenous foraging peoples were ready to accept these new methods. This process took hundreds of years and involved some dependence between the groups upon each other.


Generally, commentators were positive and excited about Bogucki’s new hypothesis, but they weren’t convinced by his arguments. They each took a different part of his material to task. One commented that “We must be careful, however, about telling better stories than the data allow” (18). This same commentator took several pages to argue, in point form, many of Bogucki’s statements. More careful study of anthropological material on the processes of culture change was recommended by one. Most concluded by stating that, although Bogucki’s article was intriguing, more study would be required before it could be accepted as a fact.


Bogucki was grateful for the time and energy taken by his colleagues to read and respond to his paper. Although he acknowledges the call for more data on the part of the commentators, he believes the article is very valid in being a “hypothesis-generating synthesis” (20). He defends his data by stating that Europe is the best archaeologically studied area in the world but realizes that there is a shortage of data for the time period between 4000 and 2500 BC which is when the shift from hunter-gatherer to agrarian culture took place.

KARIN MEUSER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Caldwell, John, Pat Caldwell, Bruce Caldwell. Anthropology and Demography. Current Anthropology February, 1987 Vol.28 (1): 25-43

The focus of this article is to explore the relationship between demography and anthropology. More specifically, looking at the cyclical effect of the two disciplines dealings around pre-modern control of fertility and “primitive affluence”. The authors claim that anthropology has long neglected concepts of primitive fertility, and when anthropology does consider these concepts it is an afterthought and not properly studied. Furthermore, the authors suggest that if the two fields were to work more closely towards population thinking then anthropology could add beneficial information towards demographic change and stability.

The authors use many anthropologists and other important works on population to prove the points of the disciplines running circles around each other. Geertz, Carr- Saunders, Firth, and others serve to supply the points on the history of population and anthropological thought. In the 1960’s through the 70’s both anthropologists and demographers again began interested in population including birth and morality rates. The cyclical effect comes into play when proving that human societies have always had control over fertility, resulting in this concept of “primitve affluence”. Using these popular works on primitive population control the authors suggest the problems running rampant with the data and how the disciplines use this data. For instance, the authors suggest that the same cultures are consistently reused in studies of primitive birth control techniques. The cultures that are cited in studies of population are always the same, the Eskimos, Japanese, and Chinese are repeatedly used in population studies. It seems as if the authors believe that a new in-depth study of demography using new data sources or cultures could be used to provide data on human population thinking.

Within this discussion is how anthropology and demography go on to use this data to suit the needs of their study. This situation creates old data being translated and interpreted in different and the authors claim, incorrect ways. The authors also assert, it seems that many of the anthropologists who have taken interest in population studies or infanticide have mis-interpreted the data sources. They then go on to address concepts of primitive affluence used by both anthropologists and demographers in ways which they see fit. Moreover, they claim that there is not enough evidence to state that primitve societies used birth control methods. In the end the authors argue that both disciplines use each others data in ways that are insufficient. In other words, neither discipline has properly looked at mortality or population thinking, but a better working relationship and understanding would benefit our understandings of population control. Finally, the authors call for combined work between the disciplines taking into account social impacts on marriage, mortality, and birth.

Comments: It seems that many of the comments sustain that the authors have gone too far with their claims of fertility and mortality in human populations. The comments go along the lines of weak data, not convincing, and too limited. The authors did show that anthropological field methodology could provide valuable insights into population thinking. Moreover, demographers could benefit from ethnographic research on marriage and family relations that has already been completed.

Reply: The most important conclusions presented in this article are that anthropologists and demographers often fail to interpret and or use each other’s data, possibly because they are not confident in doing so or would be criticized by colleagues. They believe that their theories on pre-transitional fertility control are correct, however, the evidence to support the interpretation is rather weak.

DENICE KRETZ California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Caldwell, John, Pat Caldwell and Bruce Caldwell. Anthropology and Demography: The Mutual Reinforcement of Speculation and Research. Current Anthropology February, 1987 Vol.28(1):25-40.

The Caldwells attempt to demonstrate the link between anthropology and demography, and to illustrate how the “Mutualreinforcement of speculation” can perpetuate a cycle of misinformed, and even falsely grounded theories in research. In the section entitled “Pre-Modern Fertility Control”, the Caldwells point to Carr-Saunder’s work as the starting point for many related theories based n speculation , and other contributing founders in each field have been noted as well, along with brief summaries of their major works. Further detailed are the theories of subsequent authors and contemporaries of issues related to fertility, ranging from infanticide to prolonged breastfeeding and post-partum abstinence. A similar format is adhered to in the section about the Primitive Affluence

Theory. One major factor in this perpetuation is the ease with which an anthropologist accepts demographic theories or vice versa, instead of with the critical view that one would apply to a new theory in his own area of expertise.

The Caldwells conclude their article by suggesting that by setting standards for future research and fieldwork, both anthropologists and demographers would be better prepared to avoid perpetuating speculative theories. Another improvement would be to combine anthropological and demographic fieldwork in order to allow those involved to more easily identify, interpret and avoid the inaccurate theories that have origins set in a field outside of one’s own.


The comments section is comprised of responses by six other professionals. The majority was in disagreement with, or confused by the ideas that were brought forth within the article. It is noted that neither the exhaustive number of citations nor the narrow focus on

fertility related topics, enhanced the point that the authors were wishing to make. The two commentators who agreed (and the sparse yet positive comments from the other four) were appreciative of the Caldwells’ acknowledgment of the necessity for professionals to be critical of newly emerging theories, fully research those that are intended for use within their own works, and increase the number of collaborative works to promote a more holistic understanding.


The Caldwells’ reply summarizes the major points of the article rather than addressing the specific concerns that were raised by the commentators. They did, however, provide a succinct defense for producing the article, offering that they were invited to write a piece concerning the relationship between anthropology and demography, accordingly, they wrote one in a manner and on topics which they felt would be most effective.

JASMINE MARSHALL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Clark, George A., Marc A. Clark, John M. Grange, Cassandra Hill. The Evolution of Mycobacterial Disease in Human Populations. Current Anthropology February, 1987 Vol.28(1):45-62

This article is looking at the case of tuberculosis in the Amerindians before contact with European populations. However, the authors take a very different view of the disease that one would normally think. Instead of looking at tuberculosis as genetically determined the authors believe that the case in new world populations should be looked at as adaptive systems theory, which looks at the interaction between host and pathogen. The authors use both existing evidence and new evidence to account for the occurrence of this disease in the New World. They begin with the old evidence, which uses as its primary data analysis bones and mummified tissue. The problems that they authors see with this, is the comparison of the old evidence with current populations in the same areas. This method does not account for the evolution of the disease or different strands. The comparison of old evidence with current populations leads researchers to agree that it would have been impossible for the disease to exist in Pre-Columbian era. However, we have already shown why the authors feel this is very limiting. They then move on to new historical evidence for tuberculosis and this is where we begin to find the foundations for their argument. The new historical evidence consists of the impacts of the disease on reservation populations. Keeping in mind the two comparisons of tuberculosis in the Americas the authors claim these are not valuable reasons to prove that it did exist. The authors then move on toward their approach to studying whether tuberculosis did exist in pre-Columbian America. They begin with listing all of the varying types of the disease which include, bovine, other pathogens, and mycobacterial species. The authors then get into a discussion about the occurrence and variation of the disease and its relation to population and humans, in other words the interactions between the bacteria and the host, which is the human. They then discuss the possible immunity of mycobacterial disease, indicating that the environment has large effects on the immunity of the human population. Further, human changes such as lifestyle and movement change a human’s exposure to certain bacterial, within different environments. In the end, the authors believe that pre-Columbian exposure to tuberculosis could have been from a variety of things, a low virulence, possibility of immunization due to the environment, from the wild animal, or from different environmental mycobacterial species. The authors believe that the rampant effects of the disease on current human populations could have been from a variety of these reasons, or a more intensive strain.

Comments: The paper is valuable to provide additional insights into the presence of tuberculosis in the new world, their focus on ecological and environmental factors is also interesting. However, they gloss over the importance of the role of natural selection in the process and progression of the disease. Overall, looking at the disease through the lens of the authors has provided important information regarding the history of tuberculosis.

Reply: Almost all comments agree with the points of the paper and that anthropologists need to adopt a more thorough approach. We do hope that this paper provides another reason to as how diseases become endemic, and we find it unlikely that tuberculosis did not exist in the new world in some format. In the end, hopefully this will help researchers and anthropologists to begin looking at mycobacterial causes for disease.

DENICE KRETZ (California State University Hayward) Peter Claus

Clark, George A., Marc A. Kelly, John M. Grange, and M. Cassandra Hill. The Evolution of Mycrobacterial Disease in Human Populations. Current Anthropology February, 1987 Vol.28(1):45-59.

Clark et al. cite information in their article from sources such as documented historical evidence of tuberculosis, the biological course of tuberculosis, and the evolutionary history of tuberculosis in order to illustrate their hypothesis with regards to the relationship between tuberculosis and various forms of environmental mycrobacteria.

The historical evidence of tuberculosis, for example, is extremely difficult to accurately judge and diagnose because documentation may not be accurate, or details may be sketchy. Moreover, Clark et al. postulates that the so called Amerindian genetic susceptibility to tuberculosis may not be as pronounced or as simplistic as previously thought. For example, the authors make reference to similar situations from European past during which the population was faced with comparable social, economic and health related conditions. Most of the article attempts to generate and stimulate research into the possible origins of tuberculosis related pathogens in South America, as demonstrated in the tumors of mummies recovered from this area.

The authors go on to speculate possible connections between these infections and possible immunity that they may have given to the population in the face of European tuberculosis. On a similar note, the authors explain the process through which, certain environmental mycrobacteria can alter both the susceptibility and immunity of the local human population from diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy. Hence with travel and migration, human susceptibility to such diseases can change due to different mycrobacterial exposure. Differential exposure to these bacteria can potentially explain why tuberculosis exploded in Native populations after they were reallocated to reservation land.

Clark et al. present their relevant information in such a sequence, which obviously supports their major focus, differential exposure to environmental mycrobacteria, until the latter half of the paper. Consequently, the framework of the paper is laid out to logically proceed to the point which best supports and strengthens their argument. The authors begin with the information that they are trying to disprove, in this case, the widespread belief that Native peoples are predisposed to tuberculosis because they were never in contact with this or related pathogens in their past. Subsequently, Clark et al. introduce evidence about suspicious tuberculosis-like lesions found in South America, suggesting that a potentially related pathogen was present within their population pre-European contact. The authors then outline the actual mechanisms for the transmission of tuberculosis infections, differentiating between primary and secondary infections. Interestingly, secondary infections can remain dormant until such time that environmental and social stress build and therefore trigger another outbreak. The authors can then link historical outbreaks on reserve land to both social pressures and differences in the distribution of environmental mycrobacteria leading to increased tuberculosis infections.


According to the commentators, the authors’ hypothetical model is full of various weaknesses. The article appears to consider the whole of North America to be a homogenous disease community with respect to both living conditions and proximity of peoples. Furthermore, they failed to explain the evolution of tuberculosis from bovine varieties to humans in South America, where cows were not present at that time. Most of the commentators agree that it is an interesting and stimulating paper; however, many other avenues have yet to be explored in order to boost the plausibility of this theory.


The authors, on the other hand, do not consider many of the comments from the commentators to be in direct opposition to their argument. In fact, they consider that the opinions and statements of their critics to have both identified and potentially eliminated the weaknesses within their work. For example, as people in South America were not in close contact with bovines, it is entirely possible that their form of tuberculosis may in fact have evolved from related animals that were also in close contact with humans. Finally, they acknowledged the need for multidisciplinary focus on this project, in order to reach a consensus and a deeper understanding with respect to this major and longstanding disease.

RYAN MCFARLANE Okanagan University College (Diana E French)

Earle. T & Preucel. Processual Archaeology and the Radical Critique. Aug-Oct, 1987. Vol.28. (4): 501-538

Earle and Preucel’s paper is a grand undertaking. They assert that the “new archaeology” had at its core, pitfalls in that it had positivism as its underlying principle. They set out to examine radical archaeology, as well as to highlight its lack of methodology and finally to suggest the need for a behavioral anthropology, incorporating a processual approach, while concentrating on individual human behavior.

They credit new archaeology with bringing to the field an emphasis on “cultural process”, a shift from the historical perspective, which helped the field develop rapidly and branch into specialized sub fields. They in turn have their gaze on spatial archaeology, a field with a pluralistic approach. They suggest that the radical critique examines the purpose or function (what they term utility) of structural Marxism, structural and symbolic approaches, while discounting a scientific approach. They use human geography and “philosophical developments” to understand the spatial interrelatedness of humans and their geography. They suggest that they will apply the radical critique to spatial and human geography

They provide details about normative approaches to human geography and spatial archaeology, going back to 1912, even though they assert that in the interest of the article the history can only be a brief one. They credit W. W. Taylor, Jr. for being the first to critique the ” cultural area approach”, while suggesting a more logical and scientific type approach be used, although he was a precursor to the scientific method. They examine advances in geographic research in regard to empirical patterns, statistical techniques, evolving models, theories, quantitative method, crediting Harvey for methodological functionalism and the shift in the discipline to positivism. In examining spatial approach, they credit Binford for introducing the need to look into behaviors of humans, to understand their relationship to the environment.

They examine radical geography and archeology suggesting that Marxism is important to the study, as capitalism affects humans in relation to their geographic spaces, in relation to consumption, Aproduction and exchange@ patterns, affecting the ideology, giving rise to any particular society. The authors also suggest that spatial geography is often applied with structural linguistics incorporating structuralism in attempting to examine the human/nature interaction leading to human structural constructs. They associate the origins of radical archaeology with symbolic anthropology, a shift from the earlier scientific approach, what they term as Adissatisfaction with positivist .paradigm. Structural (contextual) archaeology, Marxism (and the work of Engel in this area are both crucial to radical anthropology. Based on the work of Marx and Engel, both the structuralism and humanistic approaches are derived and incorporated in radical anthropology.

They suggest history is fundamental to understanding human behaviors, they do not do away with all scientific theory but suggest that scientific approaches are more often that not flawed, geographic inference according to them is highly problematic because of an often employed priori agenda. They suggest that archaeology can provide solution to modern day cultural and natural resource patterns based on the understanding of human behavior, relationship with environment and usage of resources, and thus far has not been a prominent discipline in the modern world.

Ultimately, the authors suggest that rather than replacing new archaeology with radical theories and approaches, we should use the latter as a means to evaluate the former, and build a sounder methodology within new archaeology. The problems they see arising out a radical approach are not just its lack of methodology, but also its disinterest in human behaviors. The authors suggest a behavioral approach that includes both archaeology and geography. They suggest that though the approach is not novel to either discipline in itself, it is in their combined form. They encourage debate over the “fundamental, epistemological, theoretical, methodological and practical” aspects of the concerns in methodology and suggest that it is crucial to the evolution of the discipline.

E. Brumfiel , felt they were erroneous to suggest that archaeology examines the past specifically, (are they?), that behavioral archaeology makes as many assumptions as any anthropologist concerned with prehistoric man=s mindset, and that the authors concern with control and efficiency (Marxism) are western values and thus ethnocentric. This is a valid comment as are her suggestions that we could examine our own behaviors by that yard stick. She does suggest that rather than using power and efficiency as a basis of understanding behavior, we could examine behaviors that in other symbolic context are related to these values.

Carr and Limp suggest that meaning derived from “the reification of symbols” is confining. Chippendale questioned the need for new archeology (no longer new) to be the ultimate way to go with a boost from the radical critique, and suggests that the authors consider certain European schools of thought. Gilman for the most part supports the works of the authors while faulting Hodder’s “rather old fashioned anthropology”.

Hodder holds the authors to task, suggesting them incapable of entering “the post-processual debates”, that archeologists are interpretive but hesitant to draw attention to this aspect, so as to maintain “an aura of science”. Johnson’s regarding “the geographical Binference problem” appeared disillusioned and blunt. Keegan questions a processual approach over processual archaeology, suggesting “geography does not offer a unified behavioral paradigm for archaeology to emulate”.

Knapp suggests that in Britain, archeologists and geographers have worked together in the past (1980s) and created a political geography from their combined work. He also suggests that “theoretical and quantitative developments in history” are crucial to the disciplines growth. Potter suggests that not having a methodology can be quite as debilitating as having one that rigidly adheres to is specified agenda and becomes self serving, causing more harm than good .Rowlett suggests that Hodder and Earle have/are walking a fine line between anthropology and geography. He also sees the need for the authors to place quantitative research more visibly into methodological considerations, while suggesting that the authors might be “wedded to taphonomy and refitting.” Trigger is highly supportive of this work, and by the importance given to history in understanding social change over time. Zeitlin finds many unresolved issues in the article, suggesting that while individual behaviors are important in the past, cultures and institutions are what alter the course of history, important for anthropological archaeology.

In their reply, the authors are primarily concerned with the remarks of Hodder and hold him to task for the quality of his work and the inconsistencies in his writing and practice,

Malpractice, as they call it. They discount Chippendale and Gilman’s suggestions as “musings” and Trigger a confused radical, projecting himself as a Marxist. They consider Gilman and Potter “sixties children” concerned with social activism and a social voice while suggesting that science and politics are incompatible. Rowlett is quoted for suggesting more quantitative involvement in research, to which the authors are in agreement. They do allow for Trigger’s comments suggesting that Marxism does not always allow for systemic change.

This article was very not lengthy but attempted much. The authors responded to the comments of their work with greater clarity and ease than they appeared to have in putting the actual article together. They were better equipped in dismantling approaches that they considered flawed, than they were in suggesting a truly viable alternative. I do agree with Blumfiel that we in the west are preoccupied with control and efficiency. As a ceramic sculptor I often create many large pieces that I keep or give away, but rarely attempt to sell, costing me a great deal in time and money. I work on pieces for days, invest in glazes and often have to invest in additional time and energy reorganizing space at home or elsewhere to store my work. I would be a poor example of efficiency, yet many of my friends in the art world share my behavior pattern (not all), which makes us as a group differ from the rest in our group and the broader external community. The fact that we store our work in tandem, car dickey, under the bed, on walls, closets, balconies, storage facilities, art studios, and or transport overseas, makes for strange geographical Bspatial linkages. Behaviors themselves change or the reasons for maintaining them change. At puberty, my interest in art was probably related to the creative urge adolescence fosters, in my twenties it was simply being creative, in my thirties it is therapeutic, a release from housework, child rearing, studies, work stresses and concerns, reflecting in the intensity of detail in my work. Human behaviors are diverse and dealing with them problematic. Generalizations are the way to go, but I am left saddened by the fact that the generalized study will lack the richness of individuality, the stages of personal growth, the unexpected nature of why we undertake certain effort, and the irrational, why invest in something that does not foster economic gain.

SHARAN AMINY Cal State Hayward (Dr. P. Claus)

Earle, Timothy K. and Robert W. Preucel. Processual Archaeology and the Radical Critique. Current Anthropology August-October, 1987 Vol.28(4):501-538.

In this article, Timothy K. Earle and Robert W. Preucel evaluate the redefinition of archaeological theory in response to the application of radical theory and its derivative approaches in fieldwork. They specifically seek to convince the reader that although the unique revelations provided by this school of thought are valuable to the definition of archaeological theory as a whole, they do not in themselves form a complete paradigm that can be used independently of other theoretical approaches. Instead, the authors seek to convince us that radical theory in archaeology is better suited for an eventual incorporation within the more positivist frameworks of existing archaeological conjecture. In this way it will draw from the investigatory techniques utilized by those frameworks which rely upon quantitative data gathering strategies, and by integration will allow these systems to attain a level of self reflexivity that they do not yet approach.

At the heart of this argument is the central concern that radical theory itself is unable to achieve the primary goal that it seeks to accomplish: a penetrative grasp of a society and the lifeways of its individuals. Without this fundamental accomplishment, there can be no complete understanding of the motivation driving individual agency within any such historical structure. If the cosmology of an earlier people can not be recreated with a legitimate degree of accuracy, then there is fear that the radical approach may result in nothing more than the flawed fantastical projections of the individual researchers involved.

By providing a brief overview of conceptual change as it has arisen within the recent history of archaeological theory, the authors allow us to first center ourselves squarely within the foundation of the argument they are choosing to pursue. By providing examples of normative, positivist, and radical approaches to archaeological theory the attempt is made to reveal flaws inherent within the radical discourse such that they believe are only to be solved through the adoption of alternate sequences of investigation. From this, they then propose a holistic return to theory that is rooted more solidly within scientific methodologies and data gathering strategies, however, keeping in mind the need for an increased self-reflexivity in these more traditional frameworks as well.

MIKE D. LOGAN Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Greenberg, Joseph H. Language in the Americas. Current Anthropology December, 1987 Vol28(5) 647-668.

The book review of Language in the Americas by John H. Greenberg starts out with the thesis of the book itself, which is that all indigenous languages of Americas can be grouped into three, the largest of them being Amerind.

The book comprises of seven chapters. In the very first chapter the author explains the principles and methodology of genetically classifying languages. The first chapter deals with five themes. First it addresses the issue of genetic classification. The second issue is that of which languages to choose for a comparative historical investigation. Thirdly the author claims that sound correspondences and reconstructed forms of languages are not conceptually equivalent. Greenberg also states “all recent comparative American Indian linguistics, attention has been paid exclusively to phonology.” (Greenberg 648) and that we need to take into account morphology as it has played an integral role in terms of the Indo European language families. In his last argument he assert that basing classification of languages on vocabulary and grammar of a number of languages simultaneously is not very different from historical classifications in biological taxonomy and that classification should involve etymology.

The second chapter is a review of the history of classification of Amarind. Based on the work of Ruhlen, Brinton and Powell the author presents three stages of classification, which include, catalogue stage, recognition of extensive groupings, breaking up of thus far accepted families and skepticism of previous approaches towards classification.

The third chapter outlines the 11 subgroups of Amarind and “etymologies specific to each of the sub groups.” (Greenberg 651) the fourth chapter further discusses etymologies of one or more subgroups identified in the third chapter. The fifth chapter focuses on the grammatical aspect of Amarind and the Sixth chapter deals with the Na-Dene problem. This involved inclusion of Haida, which is the most distant member in the language family. The author uses the work done by Levine to support his argument.

In the last chapter Greenberg concludes that the “Americas were settled by three migrations, the oldest of which is represented by Amarind.” (Greenberg 652) followed by Na-Dene and then Eskimo-Aleut.

Wallace Chafe criticizes the author for being vague about he methodology used of comparison and for determining common origin of languages. He also adds that comparison of many languages simultaneously increases chance of error. Darnell is of the opinion that he has adhered to the “lumping and splitting stance.” (Greenberg 653) Goddard says he excludes historical linguistics and that the Algonquian data is erroneous. According to Golla the author has used a single criteria of relatedness to numerous languages and has come up with taxonomy. Hymes thinks the classification of languages into specific sub groups is erroneous. Rogers thinks he doesn’t include the glacial isolation hypothesis. According to Sapir based on African reviews one cannot make statements about larger grouping without knowledge of smaller ones and that a relationship between two languages should include “systematic sound correspondences, sound laws and the ensuing establishment of starred reconstructions of sounds for a postulated proto language.” (Greenberg 663)

Greenberg replies to Darnell regarding her “lumping and splitting” statement that there is a difference between deep classification and classification at the level of species. He also says in an answer to Hymes that he would be able to trace back each sub group to a common root so that his basic classification doe not nee alteration. Regarding Golla Greenberg states that genetic classification is what serves to be the basis of historical linguistics, which allows one to compare languages, and facilitates reconstructions. As far as Chafe and Goddard are concerned the author argues that both of them do not offer nay alternative methodology for classification and that they are prejudiced against a “deeper classification of the languages of the Americas.” (Greenberg 665)

Gron, Ole. Seasonal Variation in Maglemosian Group Size and Structure: New Model. Current Anthropology June, 1987 Vol. 28(3):303-327


What problem or concern does the article address: In this article the author proposes an alternate model that accounts for the seasonal variation in group size, group structure and settlement organization for the Maglemosian culture that inhabited the North European Lowlands Circa 7500 B.C. to 6000 B.C. This proposed model differs from the conventional models in that the largest groups assembled into camps during the warmest period of the year and not during winter, as was previously suggested. More specifically, the camps were assembled in the months of April-October and consisted of 3-4 dwellings placed along the shore at 40-meter intervals. In contrast the conventional model describes winter camps that consisted of an isolated house and in some cases containing only two families.

The authors states that modern archeology should succeed at reliable interpretations of prehistoric cultures in terms of dynamically interrelated social structures and resource utilization strategies. The paper uses previously gathered archeological data concerning the organization of space within the dwellings of the Maglemosian culture and the structure of the groups inhabiting these dwellings. The author re-analyzed the data and incorporated newly gathered data to construct the proposed settlement patterns in terms of interrelated social and exploitative strategies.

Previous escavations have uncovered from bogs of dwelling floors items such as bark, branches, tools of bone, antler and wood. These artifacts have been used to provide insight into the more perishable aspects of this culture. The author mentions carbon dating to determine some of the food consumption patterns, dendrochonology to determine whether the dwellings that are being studied are contemporaneous; and lithographic analysis to describe the tool assemblage. Along with several physical anthropology related studies of animal and human skeletons. The author makes vast use of ethnographic comparison between other hunter and gather groups described in the literature and the archeological data related to this study to make certain assumptions about the Maglemosian groups. Some of the reviewers question the author’s leap of logic in making these assumptions.

The author’sprimary concerns are 1) the relationship between settlement and community size and 2) the assessment of contemporeity of adjacent archeological sites. One reviewer critiqued Gron’s “…very simplistic view of hunter gatherer subsistence and settlement pattern.” This critique argues that “An extensive and growing literature on hunter gatherer settlements systems suggests that variability and flexibility, not simplicity and regularity, characterize most forager adaptations. The same reviewer critiques Gron’s statements about settlement because they are made on the basis of a limited sample of sites. However the authors is careful to qualify his analysis by stating that he is aware of this weakness in his statistical sampling but nevertheless find his evidence so intriguing so a to warrant publication and thus stimulate dialogue and further research on his theory. Most reviewers agreed with the author on this last point.


Greenberg, Joseph H. Language in the Americas. Current Anthropology December, 1987 Vol.28(5):647-668.

The thesis of,Joseph Greenberg’s Précis to Language in the Americas is that all the indigenous languages of the Americas fall into three genetic groups of very unequal extent. The largest of these is the Amerind which encompasses all of the languages except Na-Dene and Eskimo-Aleut, the Eurasiatic in the last eastern most branches. A detailed treatment of principles and methods of the genetic classification of languages is addressed. It is also questionable as to how languages are to be genetically classified. Although certain language families can be related it does not mean that these constitute a valid genetic unit. Knowing what languages to compare is the initial step. Sound correspondences, phonology, morphology all play a part. Comparing many languages at the same time is believed by Greenberg to significantly increase the time depth making it plausible to discover language relationships.


Commentators suggest that the methodology of Greenberg’s increases the incidence of similarities by coincidence. The possibility of chance should not be ignored. Since his word sets have been published it could be perceived that this work is completed when, in fact, it is believed to have only begun. However, a survey of lexical similarities among America’s languages has not been attempted which, presents Greenberg’s work as useful. To Greenberg’s contention that all Indigenous languages of the Americas fall into three genetic groups, it is offered that a tripartite migration hypothesis could explain, “a three-way division of certain native American traits,” (662).


In reply it is hoped that further research will add new etymologies to Amerind and individual groups. Accidents, as in relation by chance or coincidence, does exist and should be identified in order to construct a system of detection. Language in the Americas has a targeted audience well versed in linguistics and based on some comments he even confuses those who are well versed in this area.

GINGER JACK Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Gr?n, Ole. Seasonal Variation in Maglemosian Group Size and Structure: A New Model.Current Anthropologist June, 1987 Vol.28(3):303-327.

This paper is a discussion, a proposal of a new model of settlement as devised for Maglemosian groups. Ole Gr?n discusses different types of settlements and dwellings, beginning with isolated one family dwellings, moving into contemporary spatially separate dwellings, then to organization of settlements, the size of settlements, seasonal variability of settlement location and size as well as looking at the possibility of seasonal rotation. Basing his argument on the availability of local resources, Gr?n suggests that Maglemosian groups had to adapt throughout the year depending on available resources. He hypothesizes that one or two families would inhabit winter sites, that five to six families would congregate at one site for the summer months and fifteen to twenty families would come together in the Fall to use available resources and collect surpluses for winter use.

Gr?n focuses a large part of his discussion on the spatial relationship between family camps and whether they were contemporary with each other. His argument evolves to include the idea of multi-family dwellings being common among hunter-gathers, a similarity that could be carried over to include the Maglemosian groups in this generalization. Within the context of these data and other archeological evidence, Gr?n assumes that there were single and multi-family dwellings in close proximity of each other that were contemporaries of each other. Through salvage archeology conducted in the Åmose Basin, archeologists conjectured that some of the single-family dwellings instead represented areas of activity thereby qualifying their spatial location near multi-family dwellings. Gr?n continues with this line of thought proposing a model of specific organization of summer settlements to most effectively make use of available resources. Within this section, the size of hunting parties and the organization within them is also discussed.

The final stage of Gr?n paper discusses a model for seasonal rotation and resource use. Through the excavations of Knud Anderson in 1985, Gr?n was able to collect a large body of data regarding two large summer camps and two winter camps. Differing from other models of hunting and gathering society, this model begins with people living at their summer camp from April to late summer, possibly into the fall around September or October, living off a variety of game as well as readily available resources of nuts, plants and fruits. From their summer camp, groups or clans appear to have split into smaller groups and inhabited isolated winter camps for the remainder of the year before returning their main summer camp. Gr?n also discusses the idea of “extraction” camps, built in specific locations during the summer for the explicit use of a resource available in only a few areas. Local variations of this pattern may have existed due to adaptation to differing environments however not enough data has been collected to theorize on the extent of the difference. Gr?n concludes his article stating that without more data, there can be no more than theories and conjectures on the living and resource use strategies of the Maglemosian culture group.


Gr?n’s article was well received by various archeologists. Lars Larsson commented that it was a thought provoking argument but calls into question the interpretation. T. Douglas Price, although agreeing with Ole Gr?n’s proposed model of seasonal variation comments that he promotes a simplistic view of hunter-gather subsistence and settlement, that interpretations and statements regarding known settlements are made on a limited sample of data and that there is very little data available to suggest that many of the sites are contemporary. On the other hand, Christopher Meiklejohn, M.A.P. Renouf, Nicolas Rolland, and Peter Rowley-Conwy all agree that Gr?n’s article is interesting, thought provoking and is the kind of description, according to Rowley-Conwy that all archeologists and anthropologists should be aiming to achieve.


Ole Gr?n replies to these comments by re-iterating his data and by clarifying the concerns of Larsson regarding the interpretation of his data. He explains that seasonal rotation is proposed not only through data collected in archeological excavations but through the known availability of resources at particular times of the year. He moves on to state that although not the ideal process in which to conduct archeological excavations, the salvage operation led by Knud Anderson in the Åmose Basin was nonetheless invaluable in collecting a large amount of data and in constructing his model of seasonal rotation. Concluding his reply, Gr?n restates the fact that his model is simply a hypothesis and through further excavation and research can it be proven or disregarded.

KARA OTKE Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Guillet, David. Terracing and Irrigation in the Peruvian Highlands. Current Anthropology Aug.-Oct., 1987 Vol. 28(4):409-430


e. What problem or concern does the article address: The author attempts to clarify several important questions involving agricultural intensification and disintensification in the Peruvian highlands. Guillet claims to be one of many scholars using archeological, ethnological, geographic, and ethnohistorical research methods to address specific questions and to add to the body of knowldege on the aboriginal terrace system in highland Peru. His focus is on the relation between terracing and irrigation.

What is the author’s basic argument: “The agricultural terraces of the Peruvian Highlands are a key element in a successful agro-pastoral adaptation to the slopes of this otherwise inhospitable valley.” (Pp. 417)uillrt The intensity of use of terraced land varies as result of a complex mix of environmental, demographic, and social factors. Guillet does an excellent job of informing us about several important aspects of the complex interrelationships between plant cultivation, water manipulation, local administration, and climate variability. This study and comparable investigations carried out recently in other parts of the Andes are beginning to provide comparative data on variability over time and space in the role of agricultural terracing. Cyclical patterns of terrace building and abandonment suggests that repeated observations of land use over time are necessary for an understanding of agricultural intensification and deintensification in the Central Andes.

How is the argument constructed: In the article Guillet gives good historical account of Andean agricultural practices. Gradually he focuses his attention on the Lari Valley, located on the western side of the Cordilleras, to draw conclusions that he generalizes to the whole Andean region. One of the reviewers gives mild criticism of this tact. The author uses a variety of methods to conduct his study. He uses highly technological geographic methods such as aerial photography and LANDSAT photography. He also uses ice core sampling, commonly used by hydrologist, to document periods of draught and rainfall as far back as 1500 years ago. He uses ethnographic archives to report on the relationship of social management of water to terrace contraction and expansion.

The author writes a comprehensive and detailed report that relies heavily on ethnographic data. However, Guillet is resourceful enough to include more empirical data gleamed from sources such as LANDSAT photography and ice core analysis to add depth to his report. According to one of the reviewers “It is rare that anthropologist measure two or more variables in real time.”(Hunt, Pp 420)


Guillet, David. Terracing and Irrigation in the Peruvian Highlands. Current Anthropology August –October, 1987 Vol.28(4):409-430.

The purpose of this article is to further explore and expand upon the irrigation issues and practices within the Peruvian highlands. Guillet attempts to use “archaeological, ethnological, geographical and ethnohistorical” (409) data in order to better understand both ancient and contemporary irrigation and terracing patterns. The focus of this article is on the Colca Valley and more specifically on the village Lari. Guillet examines briefly the ancient use and abandonment of irrigation and terrace systems in this area and attempts to establish reasons for this abandonment. In addition, Guillet also researches the more important crops grown and harvested in this region.

Using ethnographic data, extensive research is conducted on more contemporary land use, terrace construction, growing seasons, crop selection and market, economy and social pressures. Guillet also examines the political structures that are centered on the use of water and how it is distributed amongst the many terraces, as well as, water transport, distribution, flow, control and availability. Included as well are a number of tables and figures that serve to expand further on the data that is presented in the main body of the article. Guillet concludes the article with some final thoughts on the data collected and acknowledges that there is need for more research on this subject.


The comments section of the article is very extensive and includes the thoughts and criticisms of eleven academics. The majority of the commentators are very pleased with the work and presentation of data of Guillet. They applaud his attempt to examine the subject of irrigation and terracing from an anthropological as well as a sociological and archaeological perspective. The minor criticisms that Guillet receives from the commentators are such that they would like to see a little more detail and expansion of his data. However they do acknowledge that he did a superb job considering the limited length of the article. In addition, a few of the commentators attempt to expand on Guillet’s data by adding some of their own thoughts and ideas on the subject.


Guillet thanks his colleagues for providing both criticisms and support for his work, and replies to each of the comments in a constructive manner. In an extensive reply section, he offers further supplementary evidence to support the ideas in his article and tries to supply those of his commentators with additional information to answer any questions or thoughts they may have had about his research. He adds as well that he firmly believes his work is important, and he hopes it provides readers with a broader sense and understanding of the importance of irrigation and terracing in the Peruvian highlands.

JOE DESJARDINS Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Halverson, John. Art for Art’s Sake in the Paleolithic. Current Anthropology February, 1987 Vol.28(1):63-89

Halverson is returning to investigations of popular theories about the beginnings of art within human populations. The earliest forms of art come from the Paleolithic era and it is this period that he uses as his main purpose of discussion. Since the art of the Paleolithic era is well known and a great deal has been written about it, he mainly goes through the old theories progressing to his opinion of early human art. At the beginning of his essay he acknowledges that any theory is possible because we will never know the reasons why or the meanings behind early art. Therefore, let me begin my summarizing some of the theories that the author introduces then proceed to his opinion on the early human relationship with nature and thought. Some of the theories of early art which the author introduces are; magical functions of art, realism of prehistoric art, fertility, and the religious function of art. He then turns to the 19th century and ideas that Upper Paleolithic art was prereligious. This theory includes the idea that early art laid the foundation for religion in later humans. After addressing these theories he asserts that it is not possible to determine whether Paleolithic art can be assumed to represent any of these ideas. He then moves on to two additional theories around Paleolithic art which introduces the concept of social interaction and organization as well as art as adaptation a theory that has its grounding in functionalism. At this point the author begins to introduce his theories on the beginnings of art. One of the ideas that he introduces is that maybe art didn’t mean anything, maybe these early people were simply drawing and exploring. Therefore, he changes the words to “representation for representation’s sake” which Halverson feels is a better term to study art. He does this by looking at the progression of art, beginning with the cutting tool, then carving, then incising. Finally ending with the introduction of two-dimensional design. It seems that this is an important stage for Halverson. To prove his point he looks at some of the most well known cave paintings from the time in suspect and looks at the cognitive development that went along with the development of art. Looking at concepts such as natural portrays, the naturalistic look of the art, symbolic representation, and the locations of the art. Halverson ends his discussion with the idea that all of these ideas represent the cognitive development and the evolution of the conscience of the human mind, as well as asserting that this was the beginning of “genuine thought” and quite likely this is all that early art represents.

Comments: Halverson sets out to make suggestions about some of the other theories about the meanings of early art, but also confronts the same problems of there not being any evidence to support his theories. Additionally, ideas such as sites, materials, and meaning within how early man produced art could be missing because of the archaeological record. It also seems that the ideas in his essay are not new, anthropologists have thought and written about this is the past.

Reply: We can never prove the meanings behind early art but we need to keep in mind that is just as likely that it meant nothing as that it did. In terms of meaning I propose that the early art was symbolic but didn’t mean anything. It may seem that I looked at concepts already proposed for early art, I did so to help people keep in mind that the beginnings of art are important to recognize and consider.

DENICE KRETZ California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Halverson, John. Art for Art’s Sake in the Paleolithic. Current Anthropology February, 1987 Vol.28 (1):63-87.

In this article, Halverson explores the various theories that exist surrounding the meaning of Paleolithic art. After providing a very brief history concerning this argument and the many theories that have been presented, he suggests that one theory stands out above the rest, “Art for art’s sake”. Although not a new concept, Halverson indicates that the “Art for art’s sake” theory needs to be reexamined as a possible explanation for the meaning of Paleolithic art, as there is no evidence to suggest that people during this period had any reason to produce art other than as a form of representation.

In point of argument, Halverson presents the notion that it was not until the Mesolithic period that human beings began to explore cultural and religious domains and as such, art in the Paleolithic period remained free of such influences. He terms this period as one of beginnings. Using Luquet’s notions of art as an example, Halverson demonstrates that his argument is somewhat relative. Luquet’s theory distinguishes between “intellectual realism” and “visual realism”; the former is an attempt to recreates images based on how they are known, while the latter is solely based on representing images accurately (63).

Halverson’s case is thus based on the notion that during the Paleolithic era, human beings were not yet developed to a point beyond “visual realism”. Though comparison, his basis for this is found in Luquet’s work, in which children first learn to draw based on how things appear to them and not how they are in actuality. One proof in favor of Halverson is that the majority of cave paintings dated to the Paleolithic age contain only representations of animals, often poorly proportioned to reality and lack any kind of scene or natural environment to which they may belong. As Halverson states, “ they are abstract and radically displaced from nature” (67). This may suggest that these images were created solely for the purpose of art or abstract and not necessarily to convey meaning.

Halverson furthers his argument by suggesting that works created during the Upper Paleolithic period were “the world’s first observable signs, and there is good reason to think that they have the kind of implications for the development of human consciousness that Cassirer postulates in very general terms” (68). Obviously then, Halverson believes that the Paleolithic period was in fact the beginning of human development through art and what he terms “play” but more importantly the awakening of human consciousness (85).


The comments that follow the article make some very interesting points that should be considered when exploring the concept of “Art for art’s sake”. Perhaps the most convincing dispute is the fact that just as there is no proof for the other theories that exist surrounding this topic, there is no proof in favor of the concept “Art for art’s sake”. Consequently, until such proof is found, there will be an endless battle between theories with no possible solution.


In Halverson’s reply, he acknowledges this very apparent challenge and agrees. “ In nature of the case, no theory of what Paleolithic art meant can be proved or disproved. It is difficult enough to generalize about what are means to people even when we have a multitude of informants and written records” (85).

STACEY SCHILLER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Hammel, E.A. and Nancy Howell. Research in Population and Culture: An Evolutionary Framework. April, 1987 Vol.28(2):141-160.

In this rather interesting essay the authors are providing some foundations for thinking about population and culture within an evolutionary framework. The authors take the view that demography working together with anthropology can add to thoughts on evolution with regards to the subjects listed above. Even further, they believe that adding demographic thought to anthropological evolutionary theory can dispel some of the confusion, especially, when dealing with human groups. Furthermore, the authors believe that demography is central to the coevolution of societies, cultures, and the human experience. The basis of their argument involves understanding demography, species and cultures. They support this through a variety of methods, but central to this is placing it within a biological framework. They achieve this by including variation, and the errors that are caused by biological variation. This sets the stage for keeping the theory within the traditional view of biological evolution. Central to any demographic theory is population, in which the authors begin a discussion of. They add four additions to theories on population, which include fission, limitation, intensification, and decline. All of these ideas are important to their concept of population because they all have the ability to change or influence the population at any time and further, different populations will have different responses to them. Additionally, the authors call for demographic anthropology to take into account these ideas, and finally, test them. The authors then move on to a discussion of the population theories, of Malthus, Boserup, and Marx. The authors incorporate some basic understandings of these theories and expand on them. For instance, they believe that these theories on population did not take into account a changing population, that human populations are consistently dealing with products of population on the environment. Therefore, their argument progresses to looking at biological and cultural evolution as alternative responses to population pressures. Within this argument the authors believe it is important to recognize that biological and cultural responses to population do not end. Human response to population is influx, it is not bounded, almost like culture is always influx. Even further, we should be looking for this human response in the hominid record. The authors then proceed to propose some research possibilities to build theories for an evolutionary framework of population and culture. Some of these include studying, primate populations, paleodemography, hunter-gatherer populations, demography of food producers, and demography of industrialized societies. In the end, to provide the type of study the authors are calling for would require resources from many databases and a range of disciplines. It would also require populations, and possible isolated ones at that, something which the authors seem to believe is possible.

Comments: Demography may not be capable of providing a better understanding of cultural and biological evolution. When thinking about populations as capable of acting in certain ways may lead some people to believe that there are certain behaviors that remain constant within populations, which is problematic. Unfortunately, the authors fail to incorporate some of the fundamental concepts within demography (such as mortality, birth, etc.). The approach of demographic anthropology does merit further discussion and research, however, in doing so one would need to be careful of some important core concepts with biological anthropology.

Reply: As stated in the beginning of the paper the concepts of adding demography to concepts of anthropology and applying this to evolutionary theory is only a beginning, therefore, there are things that are problematic. Any theory on cultural evolution is going to be wrong. It is difficult to add the perspectives of demography to any theory relating to human behavior, therefore, anthropology in terms of its ethnography, archaeology, and biology can add to the interpretation.

DENICE KRETZ California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Iijima, Yoshiharu. Folk Culture and the Liminality of Children. Current Anthropology August-October, 1987 Vol. 28(4):41-49.

In this article, Yoshiharu Iijima examines the liminality of children and how it is reflected in Japanese culture. Iijima begins his discussion by illustrating the liminality of children. He points out that historically, children in their first seven years led a precarious existence. Since children were seen as incomplete persons they were more spiritual. As a result, their role in society was to mediate between man and the gods. Children were also naturally different from adults because of their sacred character. For a child to become earthly, a variety of rituals involving the child’s growth were necessary. Children also played a significant role in Shinto rituals because of their liminal existence. According to Iijima, this created a separate world for children.

Iijima uses Shinto rituals, folk culture, customs and children’s games to show how the liminality of children is represented certain aspects of Japanese culture. He points out that children up to seven years were used as conduits in Shinto rituals because they were “the most suitable vessels for divine oracles because they were not fully in control of their own behaviour”(42). As well, during the rituals of Shujyoe and Shunie, children played the role of demons. Since children were believed to both hold magical powers and to not be a part of the real world, while actually living in it, children were treated like demons during the two rituals. For Iijima, this contradiction is an example of the idea of children being incomplete.

Iijima further discusses the liminality of children as represented in folk culture, customs and children’s games. He offers examples of the origins of two household gods that take the form of children. Kamadogami and Zashikiwarashi became household gods because they were either unsightly or neglected children who were killed off and subsequently worshiped as household gods. For Iijima, the practice of killing off or discarding children “may be seen as having the latent significance of sacrifice to atone for some offence or to bring prosperity”(43). As well, in Kabuki plays, children usually carried the burden of the “shadowy aspects of society”(42). He also points out that the children’s group, the customary method of socializing Japanese children before the Meiji Restoration, was used to inspire social values while using spiritual energies. He sees this as a “clever way of using the social and cultural ambiguity and liminality of children”(45). Finally, Iijima points out that children, when participating in games, can easily become drawn into the games and escape to another realm. This occurs because children do not comprehend the “ discipline of everyday life”(45). In addition, because children have their own realm of games, they are believed have a separate life from adults.

CHRISTA TAYLOR Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Kessing, Roger M. Anthropology as Interpretive Quest April, 1987 Vol.28(2):161-176.

In this article Keesing is looking for a deeper understanding of cultural processes and societies than is provided by interpretive/symbolic anthropology. To Keesing interpreting cultural meaning does nothing to understand the processes which influence the meaning. The task of this paper is to go deeper than symbolic anthropology and to find out ways in which this might be possible. Therefore, within the realm of criticizing symbolic anthropology Keesing suggests three ways of understanding cultural meaning. The first is what he terms sociology of knowledge, in which he claims that things need to be understood in terms of knowledge as controlled and distributed. Secondly, Keesing makes a distingsion between what symbolic anthropology considers “webs of significance.” Keesing provides a different term, cultural ideologies. Within his definition the question becomes a understanding of who creates significance, power, and control. Even further, the who decided who gets the power while other people do not. The third idea that he confronts in relation to interpretative anthropology is the text. He believes that there are better ways to interpret and translate the readings. Therefore, briefly how does the author provide the date to prove the three concepts that were introduced above? When thinking about his concept of sociology of knowledge he introduces tribal societies. The data is based on some of the work that he gas done in Kwaio on the different meanings that certain cultural practices have to the different people all of whom are members of the same society and culture. In this sense, symbolic anthropology has paid too much attention to cosmology, rituals, and not enough significance has been put on daily life, and mundane tasks. In terms of the ideology of culture, Keesing suggests an almost Marxist perspective, resorting to these theories for some of his data. Essentially, interpretive anthropology provides little significance for social, economic, and political ideologies that provide the foundations for cultural meaning, this is a much deeper level than symbolic anthropology calls for. Finally, the problem with the text and cultural translation, and his basic argument within this thought is the deep ambiguous nature of language, which cannot be easily interpreted. The main source of data for this discussion is current research on metaphors and he specifically sites Lakoff and Johnson to understand the importance of metaphor in society. In sum, Keesing is concerned with the frameworks in which the work of symbolic anthropology places their interpretations. He feels that if more attention was paid to some of the ideas above then the sub field would be more meaningful.

Comments: Keesing neglects much data in current anthropological reading and resources that discuss the same theories. The alternative for Keesing is not the lack of symbolic anthropology but a different type, in which, political and economic systems are given more weight in influencing cultural meaning. The authors solution to symbolic anthropology is weak and unconvincing, even further he uses the work if Geertz as his primary source, which poses problems. Many of the problems he presents facing symbolic anthropology are not limited to these areas, “sociology of knowledge” is a concept that faces many other sub-disciplines within anthropology.

Reply: The anthropologist’s task does not end with trying to be more careful about how one translates and interprets in the field. We need to be more aware of societal complexity, power, and history. Currently, anthropology is not doing this. He is unable to resolve how to bring about distance when talking about cultural meaning, the correct perspective is not within his grasp at this time. We need to be able to have many different meanings, we know that cultures are not bounded that things are constantly changing, and individuals do not live their live by one culture.

DENICE KRETZ California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Keesing, Roger, M. Anthropology as Interpretive Quest. Current Anthropology April, 1987 Vol. 28 (2):161-176.

Symbolic anthropology endeavours to study cultures as an interpretive quest. Anthropologists must go beyond the surface and read culture as texts. Nonetheless, in doing so, anthropologists are plagued with complications. Specifically, anthropologists face three obstacles: the sociology of knowledge, cultural ideologies, and translations of texts.

First, not all members of society have the same access to knowledge. For instance, the Bimin- Kuskusmin of Papua New Guinea describe the meaning of their elaborate rituals as complex and multifaceted. All Bimin- Kuskusmin members recognize the external features. However, the internal layer is restricted to an elite group. These individuals gained access through completion of a series of progressive stages of cult initiation. Therefore only a minority number of individuals within the society possess the profound ritual knowledge.

Second, cultural ideology is an integral part in the distribution of knowledge happens in everyday life. Anthropologists need to look at aspects of everyday life, and recognize that what they “find” out about a culture may only be an artifact of their searching. Members of the same culture encounter these experiences in everyday life differently, and therefore the analysis must take this juxtaposed position of realities into account.

Finally, problems derive from the translation of texts. Anthropologists get caught up in the academic professional preconceptions and often over interpret and misinterpret the language and metaphors of other cultures. For example, “my belly is good/red/ hot/bad” could be conceived of as the Kwaoi talking about their seat of emotion being in their “belly/heart/liver”. However, this is a dangerous reading into people’s customary ways of talking about experiences and motives and making “other peoples conventional metaphors into exotic philosophies” (168).

The depth of the analysis is not what is being questioned, rather the framework in which these meanings are analyzed. If it is to survive, symbolic anthropology needs to use a more encompassing theory of society with carefully connected meanings to humans in their daily lives.


Elvin Hatch agrees with Keesing’s criticism of interpretive anthropology in the criticism that anthropologists tend to ignore cultural meanings as being situated. A short-coming of the article is that while Keesing brings up interesting points, he does not offer any concrete examples from his own ethnographic work, and that his arguments spill over into all of science not just anthropology. Frankel further states that since all science is an “interpretive quest” therefore it is unavoidable that academics should continue doing their work as thoroughly and honestly as possible.


Keesing agrees with Frankel that all science is interpretive, but adds that the analysis should not end there. He further comments that perhaps some of his disparagement about interpretation came from doing too much fieldwork. The simplicity of structures and symbolic interpretations that he once felt joy in understanding, no longer hold the same truth for him now that he knows the community and language so well.

LIANNE STOOSHNOFF Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Kirch, Patrick V and Green, Roger C. History, Phylogeny, and Evolution in Polynesia.Current Anthropology Aug.-Oct., 1987 Vol. 28(4):431-456


What problem or concern does the article address: The author’s attempt to apply the methods for determining the phylogenetic relationships among cultural groups to the results of recent archeological and historical linguistic work so as to examine Polynesia as a well defined case of cultural “radiation’ and divergence. The purpose is to study cultural evolution but more specifically, the shared ancestral traits that can be distinguished from convergent developments in response to common selection pressures.

What is the author’s basic argument: The anthropological goal of understanding diversity calls for an evolutionary theory of culture change. Thus this attempt to use Polynesia as a case study in culture change using modern methods for distinguishing homologous from analogous characters. Archeologist who understands cultural evolution as a process not only must eschew Spencerian notions of “general “ evolution in favor of a materialist concept of “specific” evolution but also will profit by concentrating upon historically specifiable cases of divergence, where two or more phylogenetically related cultures have arisen from a common ancestor. The author’s argue that this sets the stage for proper evolutionary approach in delineating Polynesian prehistory. It is the promise of Polynesian archeology and Historical linguistics for helping to unraveling both historical pathways and general processes of cultural evolution that are addressed in this essay.

How is the argument constructed: The authors apply the phylogenetic model used by Romney and Vogt in meso America to study the process of cultural evolution in the relatively controlled environment of the Polynesian islands. Islands have long been considered ideal situations for studying biological or cultural evolution due to the reduced or minimal external contacts. The phylogenetic model was brought into prominence twenty years ago by Romney and Vogt, though independent form each other. Romney’s contribution was to look at cultural groups: shared physical type, common systemic patterns, and genetically related languages. Vogt added: ecological adaptation as the driving force behind divergence within the genetic unit, cultural contact with other groups, internal biological, linguistic and cultural drifts as general factor leading to change. The authors of this article simply incorporated the aforementioned to more recent work by archeologist and historical linguist to arrive at their description of the evolution of Polynesian culture. The impetus for this study comes from the resurgence of archeological and historical linguistic work that has taken place the past two decades and that has made possible the precise delineation of phylogenetic relationships among Polynesian societies. Historical linguistics has provided a relatively precise independent model of phylogenetic relationships between approximately 40 Polynesian societies. The subgrouping model of Polynesian languages, with their divergence from a proto-polynesian language sometime after 1000 BC, matches closely with archeological evidence and with genetic models of population distance.

The reviewers, in general tend to compliment this work such that one reviewer states ‘…it is clear that the Polynesianist are now well ahead of the Mayanist in their reconstruction of the protolanguge and their search for the Polynesian homeland, as well as in their reconstruction of ancestral Polynesian society and of the variations there from. (Pp. 448)


Knauft Bruce M. Reconsidering Violence in Simple Human Societies: Homicide among the Gebusi of New Guinea. Current anthropology August B October, 1987 Vol. 28(4): 457-499

Knauft uses sociobiological theory, fraternal interest group theory and learning/socialization theory to examine the incidence of homicide in Gebusi, taking into account socio cultural considerations in extremely decentralized and egalitarian societies. He suggests that any general theory on the nature of violence in any tribal, agricultural or foraging group similar to the Gebusi, should not be randomly applied to the Gebusi. Using homicide rates per capita, he suggests that numbers in homicide rates for the Gebusi might not be appropriate as in other societies, based on male prestige, greater competition and aggression. He cites conflicting homicide / violence report figures for the !Kung among other tribes.

Knauft considers data collection problematic, although he then suggests that even when contradictory studies report data and numbers, they remain somewhat accurate. He discusses settlement patterns, decentralized life style, non-competitive behavior, food exchange and reciprocity, lack of male rivalry and homosexuality. Anger is however an anti- social behavior for the Gebusi. He suggests that abrupt and brutal violence ending in death, and labeled as sorcery, is a leveling mechanism that quickly restores social order. The killings are quickly set aside and retribution is not sought. The expediency in establishing order prevents any emergence of leaders. Sorcery inquests and cannibalism following execution are not unknown to the Gebusi.

Knauft has an accumulation of data, numbers and information on deaths among the Gebusi, classifed as caused by sickness, homicide, accident, and suicides, unexplainable deaths, and also by gender, male or female. He provides figures and charts to compare homicide rates in other societies at varying time periods. He also looks at sociological features of Gebusi homicides based on residence, intra settlement, extra settlement extra community, inter Gebusi and extra societal. He also considers marital reciprocity in sister exchanges, suggesting that some violence could arise from male desire to control marriageable women. He tests the sociobiological theory on homicide in the Gebusi by examining male relationships and marriage rates / types and homicide perpetrators and victims. He provides many more charts and numbers eventually concluding that sociobiology theory does not adequately address or explain Gebusi homicide patterns / roles.

Knauft, tests a fraternal interest group theory which he discounts in explaining Gebusi homicides stating that the reciprocity, lack of Amale dominance hierarchies, extensive cross cutting ties and gregariousness@ of the Gebusi make fraternal group theory impossible to apply. He then tests a socialization theory of violence. In his evaluation harsh socialization of children is rare, initiation ceremonies are celebratory and not violent in nature, fathers are not authoritative and have close and frequent interaction with sons. Children (sons) are taught to be trusting, caring and to maintain harmony. Violence and anger are negative values. Knauft, thus writes off a socialization theory to explain Gebusi violence. He then argues that killing is the supreme leveling mechanism in the Gebusi and ascribes it to psychological compartmentalization. He concludes that no one single theory can be applied to understand Gebusi violence rather one must examine male social roles, political and economic factors, gender and ecology.

I do not find Krauft faulty in discounting a single theory explanation. However, I do find that he is overly concerned, with a masculine gaze at violence, even though in his conclusion he suggests examining gender. His discussion on geographic location and Gebusi diet, were, I felt unnecessary to the argument. He is far from succinct and often repetitive. The charts and graphs though a welcome break from his long windedness were not valuable in what they offer. His statistics do not tell us much about the victims and how closely they were connected to the killer(s). He is very broad and vague on certain crucial issues such as these, while lucid in numbers (figures) and data.

The comments by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson were to the mark. They critique his focus on kin selection and homicide based on male control of arriageable women, while also asking how perpetrators of violence were identified and who the victims were. They ask whether the victims were elderly and unwanted for their dependency on others, based on the lack of revenge or vendetta for these deaths. They also asked how related perpetrators of violence and victims were, as I did, and why Knauft ignored this aspect of the study. They suggest that Gebusi violence occurs as it does anywhere else in the world based on a conflict of interest.

Leland Donald’s comments appear somewhat befuddled. He is critical of Knauft terming Gebusi society as simple, questioning whether he implies “less evolved” by this definition. He mentions egalitarian societies as representative of their ethnographic description, not faulting Knauft for his lack of knowledge on the development of egalitarian societies. He writes about the harmless nature of egalitarian societies in relation to their defenselessness against external forces / pressers. Leland is not critical of Knaufts Amale status determinism= as he terms Knauft’s male gaze, rather compliments its successful application to refute the various theories. He does hold Knauft to task for not considering the importance of history and external forces in his arguments.

George Morren, Jr puts forward an elaborate comment on Knaufts superlative abilities to dismantle the generalizations, while examining the intrinsic violence in human nature and homicide. He does suggest that while Knauft is detailed and descriptive, he fails to credit individual behaviors by emphasizing a broad social connection to violence.

Keith Offerbein suggests in his comments that Gebusi executions should be viewed as capital punishment, where society has a hand in killing rather than the individual. But Otterbein also faults Knauft for not distinguishing between planned crimes and crimes of passion. He does not question the male gaze of Knauft rather wants more male oriented details from Knauft, suggesting that in societies where male roles are indistinct, greater incidents of disputes over sexual rights emerge.

Marc Howard Ross is effusive about Knauft’s work. He questions Knauft’s debunking of the fraternal interest group theory, feeling that it should be examined more closely. He is intrigued by homicide as a social leveling mechanism amongst the Gebusi. Van Velren and Van Wetering set out to defend fraternal interest group theory with some very functionalist arguments based on patrilocal vs matrilocal lines, focusing all the while on male dominance. Although as proponents of this theory, they also credit Knauft for having seriously undermined it.

Knauft faults Morren for misunderstanding his work in not considering external forces. He continues to suggest that male status determinism and competition are crucial in homicidal behaviors due to “political helplessness.” He does however contend than Van Velren and Van Wetering undermine the importance of Freud and Levi-Strauss in understanding the sexual and social impact leading to violence. He critiques Offerbein saying that capital punishment and homicide vary in meaning cross culturally. He responds to criticism of his work by Daly and Wilson by suggesting that they are too involved in “sociobiological sanctity to credit sociobiology with scientific merit.

I found Daly and Wilson supported my own concerns about Knauft’s, work is biased in his sexist and ethno centric gaze. I was concerned when I first read the article, by the word “simple societies,” in the title. It made me question how accurate and bias free the author was going to be in presenting issues. Reading about the Gebusi and their general peaceful socialization, dislike of anger, and their crimes mainly born of passion, I was left wondering whether there belonging to a “simple” society had anything to do with it. The colonizers and missionaries of the past also found many societies simple where the members were child-like and at times irrational behaviors required that the enlightened other take care of them and their lands. The abuse generated by the enlightened, were rational corrective measures, the behaviors of the simple- irrational. Today random acts of violence in the under-developed (simple) world involving simple humans occur (irrational behavior), and if driven by religious fervor are all the more irrational. The advanced (enlightened) still have corrective measures that are rational (driven by capitalism and the need to check the unruly), for fear that valuable global resources in the care of the simple or the unruly will be jeopardized. Thus their actions are noble, in protecting the interests of the simple who can’t stand up to the unruly and then of the larger world (including themselves) by way of global resources (cultural and natural). If violence becomes necessary, it is planned as armed conflict (rationally not passionately), and if lives are lost (of the simple but uninvolved) they will not be deaths or killings or murder-in any passionate or irrational sense, but collateral damage (damage the simple dare not avenge, for fear or ability). Only homicide rates were used by Knauft to understand the violence the West generates per capita. When Knauft counts battle deaths in his data for the Gebusi, he should include war death statistics generated by advanced nations, in direct war and support in another’s war, not just by quoting their homicide rates.

SHARAN AMINY California State University, Hayward (Dr. P. Claus)

Knauft, Bruce M. Reconsidering Violence in Simple Human Societies: Homicide Among the Gebusi of New Guinea. Current Anthropology August, 1987 Vol.28(4):457-493.

The purpose of this paper is to empirically evaluate Gebusi homicide data against three theories that are commonly used to predict human violence. These theories have taken several forms. They may attribute violence to biology and genetics, that is learned as a part of human society, or that it may be socialized through punishment during child rearing. Research focuses on the Gebusi tribe situated in low land New Guinea. This tribe’s homicide rate is among the highest in the world in spite of reports that they show very low instances of aggression in their day-to-day behavior. The socialization of children is also very affectionate, as opposed too harsh. Knauft provides a brief summary of a few of the tribes that are extremely peaceful, yet have an excessively high homicide rate.

The Gebusi have a very decentralized political and economic life, and recognize no leader. They actually avoid taking a public stand on anything for fear of appearing to be pressuring others to conform to their ideas. Status rivalry among males is also absent.

The homicides that do take place are in the form of killing a sorcerer who has caused sickness and death in another. Knauft believes this is also a leveling mechanism to prevent the emergence of an assertive leader. It is suggested that it could be sexual, or other form of tension that has built up over time and when released make up in intensity what it lacks in frequency; usually resulting in homicide. This could also be magnified by the lack of socially acceptable ways a person can vent their anger before they explode.

One of the theories utilized in this paper predicts that the incident of homicide will vary inversely with the degree of relatedness between people. This is based on the idea of the minimization to the loss of the gene pool. However, the data shows almost the exact opposite. Knauft does not believe this means the socio cultural accounting for testing socio biological propositions are useless.

Simple societies that have high homicide rates do not conform to predictions of either fraternal interests or socialization, and the lack of detailed information makes it hard to test against the socio biological predictions.


There is one commentator who responds in a generally negative way to Knaufts’ paper because of her supposed ignorance and dubious methodology. The remainder of the commentators had positive things to say, and made a few suggestions for improvement. There is a general agreement with some of their findings, but it was believed that more time should have been spent on the male disputes over women that may have been the underlying reasons for the killings of sorcerer’s. One of the commentators would also like to be presented with more information about the choice of the target of the sorcery. Another suggests they pay more attention to the historical development and the valuation of simple societies. It was believed that the theory was supported even though data was sometimes scarce.


In Knauft’s reply, he responds to some of the concerns by clarifying points and describing why he chose a particular conceptualization. Knauft agrees with the comment about the attention he pays to historical developments and valuation and added that he would like to do make such improvements in future work. He also responds to some misleading remarks by refuting them with the data available.

FRASER BOULTON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Kurtz, Donald. The Economics of Urbanization and State Formation at Teotihuacan.Current Anthropology June, 1987 Vol. 28(3):329-353


What problem or concern does the article address: The author proposes an alternative hypothesis for the economic engine that fueled the development of Teotihuacan as the First City in the New World- a city state that dominated Meso-America. The predominant and more widely accepted theory is based on an ecological model that says Teotihuacan had irrigation, which was the basis of state development and that the government was a form of despotic state authority.

The author’s hypothesis states that Teotihuacan developed in response to the potential of economy to provide work for its population and implies that the governance of Teotihuacan was not so much despotic as it was well organize. Kurtz contends that an ecological model will miss certain human behaviors that may be inferred from the archaeological data. His hypothesis is based on contemporary economic theory that purports that a city will develop in response to the ability of its economy to provide work for its population; the creation of jobs and occupational differentiation are consequences of the addition of new work to older work in ways that diversify the city’s social relations of production.

How is the argument constructed: The author’s main contention is that the existing archeological evidence supports his assertions as much as it supports the assertions of the ecologic model. However he states that his model is a better explanation of how Teotihuacan developed into such a complex society. He cites the concern by social anthropology for human behavior associated with economic processes and established economic theory. Dubiously he claims that his theory gets ‘…legitimacy from inferences from data that have gone unanalyzed.’ (Kurtz, pp. 340). If the data has not been analyzed how can one infer anything from it. As Kurtz delineates the development of Teotihuacan over time he cites the work of other archeologist so support his hypothesis. Some of the archeologists are proponents of the Economic model. He tries to use “their” evidence to support his competing hypothesis. I compliment his strategy. Several times Kurtz tries to tone down the critique of the ecologic model by stating that he challenges only the “…assumption of primacy of irrigation agriculture in accounting for Teotihuacan’s development.” (Pp. 330) On the other hand he lauds the supremacy of his hypothesis “Economic expansion explains the development of Teotihuacan better than abstract ecological process associated with population growth and nucleation and irrigation agriculture.” (Pp.337) (Emphasis is mine). Finally the author appeals to the principles of scientific exploration by stating, “Science grows as contradictions between hypothesis regarding a phenomenon are resolved in favor of better explanations.” (pp.340) And “ When only one explanation exists or is tolerated, science tends to give way to religion and its attendant dogma. (Pp. 340)

I think Kurtz presents a very interesting hypothesis. I think he support his hypothesis adequately but should admit to lack of evidence when he actually lacks evidence instead of trying to play the Ecologist game and making farfetched inferences from the existing data. He states that there is value to a Socio-cultural anthropologist interpreting archeological evidence to explain behavior, and that to me is the ultimate value of this attempt.

HUGO MORA-TORRES CSU Hayward (Peter Claus)

Kurtz, Donald V. The Economics of Urbanization and State Formation at Teotihuacan.Current Anthropology June, 1987 Vol.28(3):329-353.

The author of this paper examines the social and economic processes that led to the growth of urbanization and state development in Teotihuacan. Kurtz states that he wants to present a different view regarding the development of this city. He does not think, as many archaeologists do, that irrigation was central to its development and that a city develops because its economy increases, providing more job opportunities, which means its population and social complexity also increase. He says that this paper should guide future research from this new perspective of the development of Teotihuacan.

Kurtz begins his discussion with an explanation of the ecological model, which many people propose was the model of development for Teotihuacan. He points out that it explains the growth of Teotihuacan through agricultural production, especially irrigation agriculture. He agrees that this may have been important in the development of Teotihuacan, but that it was not central in its growth. He suggests that it may have been economic factors that were central in the development of Teotihuacan. In the next section Kurtz examines the urbanization of Teotihuacan over time. He traces urbanization in the area from its very beginnings in about 300 B.C. all the way through 750 A.D. when Teotihuacan fell. He inspects the developments in agriculture, population increase, the construction of monumental architecture, trade, political developments, social stratification and craft production. All of these factors were aided in expanding and differentiating the economy of Teotihuacan, allowing markets to grow, jobs to be created, development of the hinterland, technological advance and increasing capitol.

In the discussion that follows, he argues that Teotihuacan developed because its economy was able to provide work for the population. He adds that irrigation agriculture can account for the original beginnings of urbanization, but that after 100 B.C., economic factors were much more important. Kurtz examines an analogy with the Yoruba of West Africa, used by ecologists to support their own model, and he says that it is in fact trade and not irrigation agriculture that caused state development in that area. He says that there are many problems with the ecological model. He says there is no evidence for the type of despotic rule that the ecologists propose, and that, contrary to the belief of ecologists, trade and tribute were in fact significant to development.


Some of the commentators do not agree with Kurtz’s attempt to emphasize the economic and political factors that led to the development of Teotihuacan as opposed to ecological factors. He is also criticized for not using enough archaeological data to back up his arguments. One of the commentators criticized his hypothesis because he said it would be hard to test it and find evidence to support it. The commentators also criticize Kurtz for what they say is his ‘blanket rejection’ of the ecological model.


Kurtz replies to the criticism that he does not use enough archaeological data to back up his arguments by saying that he does not know a lot about archaeological data as a social anthropologist and he just wanted to put forward the idea to guide future research. In regards to the comment that it would be hard to test and prove his hypothesis, Kurtz replies that it would be difficult, but that he thinks it could be done. Kurtz asserts that he did not mean to reject the ecological model, as the commentators suggest, but that he feels irrigation was only one cause and not the primary cause for development and that the rulers were not as despotic as the ecological model tends to suggest.

KARLA DOW Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Leone, Mark; Potter, Parker, Shackel, Paul. Toward a Critical Archaeology. Current Anthropology June, 1987 Vol. 28(3):283-302


What problem or concern does the article address: The authors claim to have used a method called Critical Archaeology, based on Marxist influenced Critical Theory, to guide a Historical Anthropology project such as to get data that is more objective and free from serving any political agenda. Apparently it is the author’s contentions that the practice of archeology in the U.S. have been used to serve a political, social agenda. The authors explore whether critical theory has a role in archaeology.

What is the author’s basic argument: Critical theory as applied to the practice of archeology serves to describe and deal with factors-social, economic, political, and psychological- that has been observed to influence conclusions and their social uses but that, under many ordinary rules of scholarship, should not be present.

Critical archaeology allows one to see how the interrelationship between archaeology and politics will allow archeologist to achieve less contingent knowledge.

The author’s describe the process by which they applied critical theory to a Historical archeology project in Annapolis, Maryland. They first conducted an ethnography of Annapolis that described some of the political, historical and social forces that had shaped the way that the history of Annapolis was perceived by the people that had control of these “facts.”

Secondly, the author’s used as an example of critical theory in the empirical data collection phase of their project. They collected and analyzed ceramic assemblages to demonstrate how social status of a particular site (house, dwelling) was established in to the historical record and thus substantiate one of the projects claims- that Annapolis history is one of ‘separations’ in the social structure of Annapolis. According to the authors “Separations represented an accurate historical interpretations of the past are presented to esidents and visitors as data about the past, but they conceal politically live conflicts between institutions and groups in the contemporary city.” ( Pp. 286) furthermore the authors contend “It is our hypothesis that these conflicts, should they be discovered in the historical presentations and used as basis for action, would pose threats to competing political forces; city government, naval academy, preservationist, and minorities.” (Pp. 286)

Secondly, the author’s applied their methodology to an “Archeological site tour informed by critical theory.” (Pp. 289). At the conclusion of the tour the authors disseminated a survey that was to be completed on a voluntary basis by the tour participants. Leone et al. claim to have received a statistically ignificant number of responses, the results of the survey are used by the authors to demonstrate a change in the thinking pattern and improved critical thinking skills of the general public that participated in the tour. This, they contend, substantiates one of the goals of Critical theory which is increased consciousness raising.

I applaud the author’s motives in attempting to apply critical theory to archeology. However, much work still needs to be done to improve in the practice of Critical archeology as gauged by the comments made by other anthropologist at the end of the article.

HUGO MORA-TORRES CSU Hayward (Peter Claus)

Leone, Mark P., Parker B. Potter Jr. and Paul A. Shackel. Toward a Critical Archaeology. Current Anthropology June, 1987 Vol.28(3):283-302.

The main focus of this article is to establish the viability of critical theory in the field of archaeology. This is carried out through the assessment of, and archaeological field work conducted at Annapolis, Maryland. The authors begin by giving the reader a brief but insightful description, or rather explanation of what critical theory is and what is encapsulated within its broad and far reaching ideologies. They iterate the importance of critical thought, is that it can deal with subjects not covered by archaeology or anthropology. Ideas contained within social, economic, political and psychological ideologies are all a part of the process through which those using critical theory can approach a subject. Their main goal is to broach the sensitive subject of archaeology being used to serve various political aims and gains.

Leone et al. chose Annapolis because it is not only one of the oldest American cities, but it has a very interesting and peppered history. They were particularly interested in the public and the inhabitants’ perception of Annapolis, as well as the evidently clear separation and segregated nature of the town. They examine, in particular, the white/black, 18th century/19th century, Historic District/Naval Academy, residents/visitors and the insider/outsider dualities that occur and essentially define what the town is and was. They examined three sites and apply various socio-economic and socio-political characteristics in order to establish whether or not Annapolis went through these societal changes, and at what time this may have happened. The main avenue they approach this was through the investigation of ceramic types and plate diameters. They and those who have worked at Annapolis contend that the plates and ceramics were much more then things to eat on, that they directly say something about stages of growth in Annapolis. In addition to this, they use critical theory to suggest the dynamics exposed here were directly influenced by not only the above dualities, but the rapid growth of mercantile capitalism.

The authors acknowledge that Annapolis is somewhat of a peculiar place archaeologically; for example, tourists are in direct contact with the archaeologists and the work being carried out. Therefore, they attempt to examine more closely the framework that has been established around the Annapolis archaeological tourist industry. Not only do they acknowledge the archaeological tourist industry, but they apply critical thought to the overall impact of the general tourist industry on the town and the participants by distributing a evaluation/question form to all who visit the site. They that the role of critical theory within archaeology can be valuable in that it allows one to acknowledge how people think, not what they think and that the interpretations of the past are directly influenced “by the beliefs and attitudes of those proposing them” (291).


The comment section presents the thoughts of ten different academics from varying backgrounds. For the most part, the comments are positive in that they provide supportive information about the main thesis and ideologies brought forth through the paper. They additionally applaud Leone et al. for taking on such a difficult subject using a surprisingly coherent and interesting means to bring about their theories. Those that do not favour this research, cite such problems as, the article does not satisfactorily explain the use of critical theory and archaeology, whether or not Leone et al. justifiably separated reality and ideology, and how and if they were able to show that their work amounted to more then historical archaeology.


In their reply, Leone et al. indicate that they appreciate all the comments and take them as constructive criticism. They acknowledge each of the comments, positive and negative and provide extensive counter-replies to those of the comments that found some fault in their article. In addition, they attempt to further support the work in their article with additional data.

JOE DESJARDINS Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Mihashi, Osamu. The Symbolism of Social Discrimination: A Decoding of Discriminatory Language. Current Anthropology August-October, 1987 Vol. 28(4):19-29.

Contextualizing his research in a historical framework, Mihashi proposes to utilize a cultural anthropological perspective to examine discrimination experienced by burakumin (a Japanese minority) and Koreans residing in Japan today. His paper is structurally divided into a section pertaining to school bullying, and another regarding the burakumin and Koreans. These two segments are linked through examples and explanations of social discrimination and bullying. He also attempts to decode the terminology of discrimination both historically and in modern terms.

Mihashi analyzes bullying in Japanese schools citing examples reported in local newspapers. Delineating aspects of both the bully and the bullied, he strives to decipher the act of bullying itself. The author reveals how bullies generally act out of fear and usually know the bullied as a peer, although the bully can also be a teacher. The bullied are targeted when considered different from the average student. In Mihashi’s words, they become “marked” via language i.e. name calling. Though not only recipients of name calling, the bullied are consistently treated as less than human, made to submit to degrading acts, and become socially isolated. With this in mind, Mihashi proposes that in society at large, some sectors of the population can also become “marked” as inferior and subsequently labeled as strangers. He suggests society keeps its order by not only driving out but keeping to the periphery these so-called strangers. He argues this is a cultural anthropologic perspective linking bullying to discrimination.

Historically, burakumin trace their roots to the feudal systems of the Edo period in Japan, whereas the Koreans migrated to Japan in the early 20th century. Mihashi emphasizes that both groups deal with similar modes of discrimination in Japan. For example, both are denied equal access to employment, many are denied the chance to live outside their communities, and many experience discrimination regarding marriage. Examples are provided of both groups being “marked” in these ways, as well as recipients of name calling in verbal and written form such as graffiti. He believes the discrimination these two groups live with today has increased, noting recent generations of Koreans born in Japan are still considered foreigners. Thus, it is within this framework that Mihashi points out the similarities to the long term discrimination experienced by the burakumin and the Koreans, and the bullying going on in the school system.


Roger Goodman, the sole commentator, commends Mihashi’s efforts in bringing the struggles experienced by the burakumin and Koreans residing in Japan to the attention of anthropologists. He suggests, however, that the author’s perspectives lack clarity. Goodman criticizes both the quality of the evidence presented and the co-analysis of school bullying with minority discrimination. He is also critical of what he interpreted as the weight of the problem being put on the individual and not enough on the social system. The commentator concludes by offering his own observations regarding discrimination and returnee schoolchildren. (i.e. Japanese children who attend school overseas and return to enter Japan’s school system.) In his example, he proposes discrimination can be positive depending how it is manipulated.


In reply, the author maintains that the dimensions between bullying and discrimination as presented in this paper are such that the two areas should not be considered separately but indeed be co-analyzed. Mihashi acknowledges the social system should be held accountable for bullying/discrimination, however he reminds Goodman this was not the focus of the article and therefore it was not discussed in detail. While Mihashi positively regards the commentator’s analysis concerning returnees, he questions whether the discrimination Goodman refers to is in fact manipulated. For example, he notes that the location itself (e.g. the West versus Asia) from where a child returns affects the level of discrimination that child receives upon reentry into Japanese schools.

GRETA TRODD Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Namihira, Emiko. Pollution in the Folk Belief System. Current Anthropology August-October, 1987 Vol. 28 (4): S65-S74.

In her article, Namihira presents a cultural discussion on the concept of pollution as being an important element of Japanese society. She believes the Japanese people understand pollution to be a source of validation for social discrimination in societies, past and present. She sets out to provide an understanding of the importance that “pollution” has held in society throughout history. Physiological phenomena, death, gender biases, illness and crime are discussed with the perception that they are all aspects of society considered as social pollutants that are “believed to bring danger, adversity and misfortune to human beings”.

Evidence focused upon by Namihira consists of material that is either historical, or considered to be folklore. Data relating to the customs and rituals pertaining to the pollution of death, pollutant effects of women, crime as pollution and illness along with pollution, are also discussed. Each aspect is given its own section where supporting information is provided. The various cultural ideas of pollution relating to the subject of taboos are the main support for Namihira’s arguments.

Namihira concludes by reiterating the concepts, ideas and comments mentioned at the beginning of the article. She states that the notion of pollution is considered “an important element in the belief system of the Japanese people”, and that its impurities bring unfortunate circumstances to those considered to be polluted. She believes that only through the removal of the state of pollution can “public peace and prosperity” be brought to the Japanese people.


Ohnuki-Tierney’s comment on Namihira’s article is quite critical of the simplistic presentation of the representation of Ohnuki-Tierney. The commentator believes his/her interpretation of purity and impurity to be far more complex than the one suggested by Namihira. In the comment Ohnuki-Tierney makes mention of “divine strangers” visiting from outside, fortifying the lives of settlement inhabitants. The analyst believes that purity along with impurity should be deemed as principles of classification governing the context instead of as “absolute properties”. Ohnuki-Tierney is simply challenging the concluding statements and other information in the article written by Namihira.

SHANNON SVISDAHL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Nishimura, Kho. Shamanism and Medical Cures. Current Anthropology August-October, 1987 Vol. 28 (4): S59-S64.

Nishimura’s article focuses on the dependence of many Japanese people, on shamanism as a form of treatment for various types of mental illness including diseases such as schizophrenia, and possession. Nishimura is not attempting to discourage the use of shamanism as a medical cure; instead, her article displays the attempts she made to learn about the practice of shamanism, in turn promoting its use.

In Japan, many people including patients in psychiatric wards of local hospitals, still believe in visiting shamans for treatment of disorders. Shamans still practice their craft in Tokyo after learning necessary rituals from a senior shaman and acquiring their license to practice from one of the religious orders. Even though these shamans are organized to a certain extent, most people are hesitant about admitting that they have visited a shaman before going to a hospital or a modern medical practitioner. However, of 300 patients surveyed in psychiatric wards of hospitals in the prefecture of Aomori, most said they had visited a shaman. Ninety percent of these people visited the shaman before being admitted into the hospital.

Patients who found themselves with illnesses that were difficult for others to understand or that involved hallucinations were more likely to depend on shamans for diagnosis and treatment. The diagnosis is less threatening and easier to comprehend, while the setting where they receive treatment tends to be more comfortable and natural. The younger patients also have a tendency to rely on shamans more than the older patients. Declining family values and the separation of the generations within families are seen as major factors resulting in these occurrences. Modern science has failed. The scientific approach labels a person with diminished or fluctuating mental capacity as, “persona non grata”. Modern medicine removes the patient from the home and community, alienating him/her from modern society and isolating the patient further from their familiar community surroundings. The approach of shamanism regards the patient as a member of the community. This difference is very significant. Nishimura explains his/her belief that the reason for the prevalence of shamans throughout Japan is situated in the disappointing nature of the scientific approach.

Information gathered in studies done by Nishimura are used to illustrate how many people in Japan who have been diagnosed as having a mental disorder by a modern medicine practitioner, will visit local shamans in order to seek traditional methods of healing. Data pertaining to the type and number of people who visit shamans in Japan are used to better explain and support key ideas and concepts. In addition, the way Nishimura divides the information assists in the understanding of the material.

SHANNON SVISDAHL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

O’Brien, Michael. Sedentism, Population Growth and Resource Selection in the Woodland Midwest: A Review of Coevolutionary Developments April, 1987 Vol.28(2):177-197.

The main purpose of O’Brien’s article is to look at theories of coevoultion within the concepts of sedentism, population growth, and resource selection. He makes the argument for coevolutionary progression between plant species and animal species eventually leading to domestication and sedentism. The theories and work of Rindos is the primary data source for O’Brien’s discussion of the early relationship between humans and plants. Using the theories of Rindos he makes the case for sedentism, population growth, and resource selection in the Woodland Midwest. Before using Rindos theories, we need to take a moment to define them. The coevolutionary theory consists of three processes; incidental domestication, specialized domestication, and agricultural domestication. Incidental domestication is the process of dispersal and protection of wild plants by humans. This type of interaction takes place within the natural environment of the plants and is argued preadapts plants for domestication. Specialized domestication refers to increasing interaction with humans, i.e. humans are using plants further and helping the plants to thrive, which in turn causes the production of the plant to increase, thus also influencing the population of humans. Before making the case for coevolutionary progression in the Woodland Midwest he first looks at some of the data from archaeological sites. The main source of evidence is the seed. Intensive seed volumes, including oily seeds, and starchy seeds are found in the Woodland Midwest, which were not found in earlier archaic sites. O’Brien then proceeds to a discussion of what the data means to a coevolutionary model. He believes that by 200 B.C. humans reached a point when sedentism and interaction with plants became a viable option. At this stage the population moves from incidental domestication towards more specialized domestication. At this point O’Brien begins to discuss the implications for a potential population growth. He supports this statement with data from Braun who has shown that over the same period of time the vessel walls of ceramics began to get thinner, this also supports that the population was also beginning to use more seeds in their cooking practices. Also, important to O’Brien is the importance of a coevolutionary model, studies of population, plant domestication, and sedentism becomes unimportant. This is the case because one can assume that interaction between humans and plants creates the potential for population growth. In the end, adopting this model allows archaeologists more time to spend understanding social relations and organization rather than focusing on population and sedentism.

Comments: Changes in mobility strategies could be more directly associated with O’Brien’s discussion than population. The area in which O’Brien uses for his data is not the ideal area for a study of coevolutionary studies, the data for this area in weak. O’Brien fails to include evolutionary explanations, such as variation and selection. The evolutionary perspective does allow for further attention towards cultural change and social organization.

Reply: Yes, the data is insufficient when trying to prove variation, however, coevolutionary relationships are worth pursuing. Hopefully, this paper will help to develop a process of getting data that does demonstrate how variation operates. The Woodland Midwest is the perfect place to discuss a coevolutionary model because it is not a closed system and other groups may have used different methods. Mobility strategies may perhaps have been influential, however, local population stress cannot be discounted.

DENICE KRETZ California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

O’Brien, Michael. Sedentism, Population Growth, and Resource Selection in the Woodland Midwest: A Review of Coevolutionary Developments. Current Anthropology April, 1987 Vol.28(2):177-196.

O’Brien’s article examines the applicability of David Rindos’ idea of the coevolution of humans and plants, to the Middle and early Late Woodland periods of prehistoric Mississippi Valley. He argues that present scenarios of the relationship between sedentism, population growth, and resource selection strategies are always cause and effect and therefore inadequate. In contrast, changes in social systems are normally coevolutionary, not a linear cause and effect relationship. O’Brien refers to Rindos’ idea that domestication was not a stage, but an evolutionary process and that the relationship between humans and plants progresses into specialized domestication, which allows for population growth.

The coevolutionary model comprises three different aspects, which are determined by the kind of human behaviour and environment: incidental domestication, specialized domestication, and agricultural domestication. Following this explanation, O’Brien describes the Mississippi region, including measurements of the river and valley, and provides a map, while referring to the archaeological database of the Woodland period from this region for support. He refers to the database to explain the social activity in the area during that time, including settlement patterns, ceramic styles, burial practices, social organization, and the development of sedentary life ways through intensified domestication of resources.

Following the summary of the area and database, O’Brien examines the data in terms of the coevolutionary model. He implies that population modifications to both humans and plants, adaptive and sometimes maladaptive, occurred continually, rather than in a few stages, during the cycle of domestication. The increase in domestication allowed for population growth, which can be seen through the archaeological data, due to an increase in technology in the Woodland area. The rise in sedentism and populations created stratified resource areas, and therefore rights to the valuable areas increase in importance. As a result, new social dynamics, such as status and wealth, began to emerge. Through application of the coevolutionary model to the Mississippi area during the Woodland period, O’Brien fills in gaps found in the archaeological record, thus, increasing the understanding of human-plant relations in the area. The article concludes by emphasising that more fieldwork still needs to be done to further test the coevolutionary model; however, it remains an extremely useful approach to explain the complex interactions between sedentism, population growth, and resource selection.

Throughout the article, O’Brien draws upon several modes of evidence for support, such as maps, charts, tables, and numerous pages of references, all of which add strong support to his article.


Although most commentators agree that O’Brien presents a clear argument, all disagree with some aspect of his argument. Several commentators stress that the geographic location in which O’Brien applied the coevolutionary theory is poor testing grounds, because the area is small and knowledge of the prehistoric area is extremely limited. Others argue that O’Brien fails to show how selection operates on variation to produce change, which is the heart of the coevolutionary model. All commentators iterate that O’Brien’s use of the coevolutionary theory is more of a beginning than an end and that the real contributions of this theory are yet to come following new archaeological evidence.


In O’Brien’s reply, he explains that the commentators provided some interesting points, but there were several misconceptions of his paper. He agrees that documentation of variation is required before understanding how change is driven can occur, but unfortunately that data does not exist. O’Brien states the purpose of his article is to point out the lack of data, in order to stimulate further research. The main objective of his paper is to summarize the existing database across the Midwest, utilizing the coevolutionary model, to better understand the relationship between the humans and plants in the area. The reply concludes by stating the inferences he made in his article should be challenged, as the commentators did, but the overall usefulness of the coevolutionary approach in understanding cultural behaviours is unarguable.

KIM TOWNSLEY Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Schiffer, Michael B. and Skibo, James M. Theory and Experiment in the Study of Technological Change. Current Anthropology December, 1987 Vol28 (5): 595-623.

This article by Schiffer and Skibo discusses a theoretical framework for investigating technological change. It talks about three kinds of theoretical knowledge i.e. recipe for action, teaching frameworks and techno science. Recipes of action are the “rules that underlie the processing of raw materials into finished goods.” (Schiffer and Skibo 596) Teaching frameworks refers to the intergenerational transmission via imitation, verbal instruction hands on demonstration and even self-teaching by trial and error.” (Schiffer and Skibo 596) Techno science consists of the rules on which technology is based.

The paper rejects two theoretical stances. The first being that technological change is explicit and can be obtained from the practitioners of technology themselves and that technological change is based on science like technology.

According to the authors technological change can be best explained on the basis of performance characteristics of the artifacts. These characteristics are relevant to the functional fields in a society. As there is a change in the functional fields in response to it the technology alters. This very approach has been explained by illustrating the case study of eastern North American transition from Archaic to Woodland ceramic technology. The performance characteristics identified in this case study include ease of manufacturing, cooling effectiveness, heating effectiveness, portability, impact resistance thermal shock resistance and abrasion resistance.

Gary Feinman argues that some interpretations in the article are not convincing and context specific and comparative analysis is required. He also questions the portability of abrasion and impact resistant artifacts and also questions the assumption that archaic artifacts are considered to be more portable than woodland ones. He argues that the authors have offered very little explanation in terms of the type of clay that was used. Mcconaughy feels that there is a lack of focus on social and ideological functions. Krause defines functional field as the technology used by the community and feels that an extensive study of technology of a community would not be an accomplishable task. Lightfoot argues that the research is based on laboratory testing and artifact classes and is devoid of archaeological research. The relationship between functional fields and performance characteristics seems too simplistic to Nelson who thinks the authors have a static view of ethno archeology and he further argues that in some situations variability of artifacts has little to do with performance characteristics.

In response to Lightfoot the authors assert that he is wrong in basing the flaws of the research on framework as he confuses satisfactoriness of the theoretical framework and its application as illustrated in the case study and that these two should be kept separate. The authors agree with him on the premise that archaeological material is pertinent tp the theoretical framework. Nelsons suggestion that the different artifacts can be used for the same function is what the authors disagree with a s this implies that the function remains static while artifacts do not. According to the authors when different activities are performed by with different activities they do not remain similar. The authors do not understand Nelson’s definition of ethno archeology as they feel that attention ahs been paid to this whereas nelson argues that it has been ignored. Feinman according to the authors has overlooked that the shape, wall thickness of the artifacts are accounted for. Schiffer and Skibo further argue that Feinamn wants to know whether the artifacts are abrasion and impact resistant or not. According to the authors an artifact can be abrasion or impact resistant to a greater or lesser degree however an artifact cannot be explained in terms of having or not having abrasion and impact resistance.

DENICE KRETZ California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Schiffer, Michael and James M. Skibo. Theory and Experiment in the Study of Technological Change. Current Anthropology December, 1987 Vol. 28(5): 595-619.

In this article, authors Schiffer and Skibo examine the evolution of technology, and the changes produced within this field for the past several centuries. The authors tend to use examples such as ceramics and knives to evaluate their theories which are presented in this article, and later demonstrate reasons why these technological advances occurred in early cultures. Basically, their argument assumes that change in technology is primarily initiated by knowledge. They illustrate their reasons for change in technology, and come to the conclusion that there are three dominant components which initiate technological knowledge. These issues include concepts such as “recipes for action, teaching frameworks, and techno-science”. In general, recipes for action is defined by the authors as “rules that underlie the processing of raw materials into finished products”. The second and third components deal with teaching basics in technology, and techno-science which is “the principles that underlie a technology’s operation.”

Skibo and Schiffer elaborate on their article by defining the origins of change which can be demonstrated through a “functional field”. By using an example which deals with Woodland ceramics used by natives who lived in the United States over two millennia ago, the two authors prove their thesis regarding technological change over an extended period of time. This includes a very detailed analysis of archaeological finds, as well as a large amount of information found regarding these peoples concerned with this hypothesis.


In the comments section of the article, the majority of responses given seem to all agree that the article was put together very well, and has produced an extensive collection of valuable information. However, some of the criticisms tended to be technical errors, such as in Feinman’s response which deals with the usage of archaic vessels, and whether they were as portable as other vessels. Richard Krause however gives an excellent review, and states that the article written by Schiffer and Skibo generate exceptional ideas which could be used towards future research.


The reply produced by the authors address the criticisms and questions very well, in that they answer and justify their very meanings. Both authors; however, agree that a lack of primary evidence was present in their article, but is justified why they used little of this evidence. Schiffer and Skibo agree with Lightfoot when it comes to this issue regarding primary sources.

KEITH WILSON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Spain, David H. The Westermarck-Freud Incest-Theory Debate. Current Anthropology December, 1987 Vol28 (5): 623-647

Spain rejects the idea that the Westermarck and Freud held opposing views regarding incest. The author is of the opinion that the two can be combined to come up wit a clearer model.

Westermarck’s theory, which is bio evolutionary, asserts that humans avoid interbreeding and incest due to “individual fitness aims.” (Spain 623) The theory also suggests that a natural sexual aversion exists between individuals who have been raised together or have been raised in close proximity to each other. The theory as such has two main elements

Instinctual aversion effect

Childhood propinquity effect

According to Freud’s psycho cultural stance, humans avoid interbreeding and incest as it is in line with psychosocial needs and due to the taboos placed on such behavior. This theory has two elements as well

Primal crime effect

Psychosexual development effect

Spain states that the debate should be about the “character and particulars of the aversion inducing mechanisms”. (Spain 624)

Spain quotes Niko Tinbergins four levels of explanation essential for explaining any bio behavioral phenomena, which include ultimate, proximatic, ontogenic, and phlyogenetic.

The author argues that both Freud and Westermrack make use of only two of these levels and both pairs are not similar. This according to Spain makes it evident that a synthesis of the two theories would lead to a more complete model.

According to Spain a synthesis of the two theories would explain incest and interbreeding as “the way humans are anatomically structured and organized and the way they grow and develop causes and aversion to interbreeding and incest to be established by about the age of six.” (Spain 626) This capacity according to the author developed in the past under biosocial conditions and continued through natural selection.

The author’s stance, that the Westermarck and Freud theory is not opposing, was used to evaluate incest studies by Wolf, Shepher, Fox, Spiro, McCabe, Burling and Van Den Berghe.

The commentators include Poole who thinks that Spain’s essay is a prolegomenon. Paul argues that the author has over emphasized on the complimentary nature of the Westermarck/ Freud debate and that the works of Wolf and Shepher should not be discarded but thought of as important. According to Rohrl the definition of incest needs to be refined and there needs to be a clear distinction between the definition of mating and marriage. According to Van Den Berghe “self understanding is the ultimate challenge for a brain that evolved to track its environment, not to fathom its own motivations” (Spain639) He goes on to say that he rejects Totem and Taboo as its cannot be falsified and is not based on supportive evidence. He defends himself by saying that the author has wrongly accused him of not being able to differentiate between incest and interbreeding. According to Wolf the Oedipus complex is not applicable to minor marriages.

Spain agrees with Paul that he has stresses too much on the complimentary nature of the two theories but he considers that it was important to do so for clarification. He also agrees with Paul that Wolf and Schepher should be considered important however “for reasons other than the ones claimed by these authors.” (Spain 642) The author agrees with Poole that his study is prolegomenon just as most researches are. He agrees with Van Den Berghe on the first point and does not think that any discussion regarding his second point would be fruitful as Van Den Berghe would not be willing to listen. Regarding the third point Spain clarifies that he did not state that Van Den Berghe was unable to differentiate between incest and interbreeding butt hat he confused the two terms and used them interchangeably. Spain also rejects Wolf’s criticism that the Oedipus model is not applicable to minor marriages.

HUGO MORA-TORRES California State University Hayward (Peter Claus)

Spain, David. The Westermarck-Freud Incest-Theory Debate. Current Anthropology December, 1987 Vol.28 (5): 623-643.

This article opposes the traditional view that Westermarck and Freud held opposite views about incest. It is argued, however, that their views were far more similar than what has actually been recognized. The author believes that if he could somehow combine their theories, then a comprehensive and informative model would be formed.

Explanations of the two theories are given. The Westermarck theory is said to be a bio-evolutionary theory meaning that humans tend to avoid incest or inbreeding because natural avoidance to such acts come forth between people who live in a close intimate relationship, especially in childhood. The Freud incest theory is said to be the psychocultural theory that states that humans avoid incest or inbreeding to be consistent with their psychological needs and because the incest taboo is an effective restraint on unconscious impulses to commit incest. It is said that the Westermarck-Freud Incest theory is a nature versus nurture debate.

The new union of theories is used to evaluate specific cases in anthropological literature. The author especially focuses on the studies done by Wolf and Shepher on marriage customs in Taiwan and Isreal. There are however, some limitations to the merging of the new theories. It is argued that these studies should not have been the decisive factor in the Westermarck-Freud incest debate. Lastly, there is some argument on the psychoanalytical formulation of Freud’s theory, raising one particular question “what if there is no taboo against incest?” (633).


There are both positive and negative comments on the author’s work. Some positive comments included that his article was impressive and cleared up some major issues of the debate. One commentator states that researchers interested in this topic might benefit from his article. It is also noted that the article demonstrated the historical contrast between the two theories and tied together the ideas of “nature and nurture.” Some negative aspects of the study were that the conclusions are impossible to determine due to lack of evidence. Also noted is that Freud’s theory is not valid because it lacks any scientific theory.


In response to the comments, the author notes that one reviewer was correct in noting that he had overstressed the fact that the two theories are complimentary. This was carried out to try to get the point across. He agrees that the Westermarck-Freud debate was shaped by more than just the words of the debate itself. He claims that Freud and Westermarck contributed far more to anthropology than just their incest theories. He said that he was most discouraged at a comment made that stated that Westermarck was right and Freud was wrong.

TRICIA VELTRI Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Ueno, Chizuko. The Position of Japanese Women Reconsidered. Current Anthropology October, 1987 Vol..28(4):S75-S84.

Taking into account issues such as the distinction between the symbolic order and daily praxis, class differences, social spheres, types of social organization, and social change, Chizuko Ueno wishes to reach a fairer and more accurate appraisal of the position of Japanese women. Ueno’s argument focuses on the everyday life of the ordinary people (jomin), the majority of the people, rather than texts from the ruling class.

Traditionally, jomin meant peasant, but today it represents the urban workers. Many Japanese women’s positions have been transformed from peasants’ wives to the wives of urban workers. Ueno reconstructs women’s positions in the pre-modern village and then describes the new phase of transformation since the 1970’s. The author also discusses the current interpretations of these social phenomena, and attempts to offer a more balanced view of women.

The view of women’s status in pre-modern Japan oscillates from a lower status, the feminist version of evolutionism, to a higher status, what is called the “oppressive history”. Ueno examines women’s status in an agricultural society in comparison with their status in an industrial society. In a rural region, the female was considered the head of the household, a shufu which means “main woman”, while the male represented the household to the outside world. The shufu had exclusive control over the distribution of rice that meant control over the domestic economy.

With industrialization, men can establish their own households on a nonagricultural basis and every woman can be a shufu but the power of the role has shrunk. This power means nothing more than being the wife of an urban wage earner and now urban residents. This social change affects women as they become isolated from each other and lose their communal support. Lifestyles also change with married women entering the labor market in part-time jobs. Ueno concludes with four cultural issues specific to the Japanese women that help in understanding their cultural differences.

This paper is important because it deals with an issue pertinent to all societies: women’s studies. Ueno explains clearly the role of Japanese women in pre-modern days and their role today. She makes clear that cultural issues specific to Japan do affect a woman’s role as wife, mother, and wage earner.


D. P. Martinez states that Ueno does succeed in giving a new perspective on Japanese women’s issues. However, this commentator finds that Ueno’s feminist model becomes a bit confused and she disagrees with the reason for the shift in women’s role because in her own fieldwork she was presented with women’s power and status both within and outside of the household. Martinez states that Ueno sidesteps the problem of establishing an identity outside the household that has value in a Japanese context and that Ueno gives too bleak a picture of historical processes and their effect on modern Japan.

LINDA J. BASTIEN Okanagan University College (Diana E. French).