Current Anthropology 1998

Applbaum, Kalman. The Sweetness of Salvation, Consumer Marketing and the Liberal-Bourgeois Theory of Needs. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol. 39(3): 323-349.

Consumer marketing and the liberal-bourgeois theory of needs, the subtitle of this article, becomes a complex for the embedding of needs in everyday practice, and the perpetuation of a “Western cosmological duality of suffering and salvation” (Applbaum, 1998:324). Moreover, Applbaum claims, “the way in which marketers change the conditions of consumer reality is mainly by intensifying, rationalizing, and universalizing existing tendencies, not by altering either extant culture categories or the core cosmology of capitalism, to which marketing itself perforce conforms.” (Applbaum, 1998:324).

Applbaum utilizes the theoretical framework of Bourdieu in order to analyze consumer behavior. Although he argues that, “[t]he social order being reproduced is less class structure than an order that signifies itself in practical, rationalist terms as ‘the marketplace’ “(Applbaum, 1998:324). This clearly weakens the lens of perception due to the fact that Bourdieu’s framework works better at showcasing class distinction and taste based upon class privilege or poverty. John Clammer, one of the commentators gives Applbaum a scathing indictment on this theoretical approach. James McDonald also delivers a desire for a more thorough examination of Baudrillard, Bourdieu and Lefebvre (the main body of analysis can be found on pages 331-332). At any rate, he does show the evident power relationship and how it is manipulated to dealienate or deliver the mass majority from suffering.

Applbaum strives to show that marketers and consumers make up the marketing effort. He maintains that both are necessary and utilize each others need and desire for fulfillment in order to achieve “salvation”, which in the end is shown to be a hoax. This article is clearly thought provoking and Applbaum makes a good point of showing the embedded nature of the liberal-bourgeois system of needs/wants in our contemporary economic praxis. The professional commentators almost unanimously agreed that the topic and discussion were on the mark, but most also agreed that more time could have been spent unpacking some of the theory. In short, Applbaum’s haste in making his argument leaves the reader and the social theorist/philosopher wanting. Applbaum makes it clear in his reply that he could have opened up his theoretical stance, shown a dynamic power relationship, and clarifies the linkage of this paper to Sahlins’ discussion of American cosmology. The article is well written and structured.

JONATHAN KIMMEL Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Applbaum, Kalman. The Sweetness of Salvation: Consumer Marketing and the Liberal-Bourgeois Theory of Needs. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol.39(3):323-348.

This paper analyzes the idea of needs as defined by Marshall Sahlins in the 1996 paper “The Sadness of Sweetness: the Native Anthropology of Western Cosmology” in marketing and consumer behaviour. Applbaum describes the perpetuation of the western idea of suffering and salvation through market interactions of marketers and consumers. The origins of the suffering philosophy of humans as imperfect and bent on the satisfaction of desires, is cited in the biblical tale of the Original Sin, and reiterated by St. Augustine’s interpretation of it. An “ethnographic” example begins the discussion as marketers meet with a focus group of twelve “housewives” and attempt to find a way to brand a household medicine in order to make it appealing to consumers. The author uses the suffering/ salvation duality to demonstrate that marketers do not change cosmology but simply intensify pre-existing cultural precepts in an interaction with consumers. Consumers are said to be active participants in marketing, while marketers are pointed out to be members of the cultures which they sell to.

Using the ideas of Bourdieu, Applbaum links product categories to perceived categories of needs. Through processes of alienation and dealienation, marketers can aid the public in curing their perceived needs and consciousness of need fulfillment and can help to alleviate feelings of alienation by permitting the consumer to distinguish and identify themselves by way of the products chosen. The process is considered to work because of the ideal of free choice which the consumers hold close to heart. By choosing myriad products distinct from others’ myriad choices, an identity can be established. Fantasy and imagined purchasing communities are also seen to be driving forces. The consumptive nature of modern life is cited from Lefebvre and Baudrillard.


The comments focus on some basic flaws, such as the consumptive power of groups such as families, rather than a rigidly individual perspective, and the fundamental lack of faith in consumers, namely the assumption of reacting only to an object’s symbolism. His “ethnographic” evidence is also criticized, due to its staged nature and the fact that it was a singular event. Power relations are also questioned, as Applbaum portrays marketers and consumers as equal partners, rather than the more common idea of portraying the marketer as a manipulator.


Applbaum’s reply follows from interviews with dozens of marketers who don’t consider themselves to be dominating or hegemonic but perceive themselves instead as entering into a situation in which both parties know the rules and therefore are both free to abstain. Marketers claim to be more concerned about the competition than increasing their market share. With these thoughts in mind, Applbaum dismisses the idea that consumer are helpless targets.

RYAN YOUNG Okanagan University College (Diana E. French).

Beach, David. Cognitive Archaeology and Imaginary History at Great Zimbabwe. Current Anthropology February, 1998 Vol. 39 (1): 47-72.

This article is a criticism of Thomas Huffman’s theory of Great Zimbabwe. Beach states that Huffman’s work has misunderstood historical Portuguese documents and misinterpreted oral traditions in the vicinity. Huffman is also criticized of having a static view of the use of space over time during the height of the Great Zimbabwe state. Beach then goes on to offer an imagined guess at how Great Zimbabwe came into existence and proposes that it is closer to the truth than Huffman’s work due to Huffman’s mistaken synthesis of information.

The height of the Great Zimbabwe state is believed to be from around the years 1200 – 1500 and was also believed to be from the Shona people who currently live in the area. Two key developments in the study of the site were: in 1905, David Randall-McIver established the date and African origins of Great Zimbabwe; and in the 1970’s, when Huffman’s studies of the dwellings outside the stone walls led to the belief that the entire area, not just the specific site, was an entire civilization covering a large political community like a nation, not just a city on its own in the countryside anomalous of others. Beach believes that most of Huffman’s conclusions since this breakthrough are flawed. Some of these flaws are described in the article such as Huffman’s misinterpretations of: rulers association with high ground, male and female living quarters and power, religious meanings of buildings and there placements, symbols and there meaning on walls, the importance and meaning of carved stone birds, and female initiations. Beach also displays a mistake in Huffman’s reasoning because he borrows practices from other local natives like the Venda too much, and not enough from the Shona. One item that Beach agrees is a possibility, is with the connection of the Mapungubwe site. It was originally believed that Mapungubwe was another satellite site that was influenced by Great Zimbabwe. Huffman’s latest archaeological dating shows that Mapungubwe was an earlier, smaller site that influenced Great Zimbabwe. Beach cautiously agrees with this idea and used it in his own imaginary history of the ancient state.

Beach says that his own version of Great Zimbabwe is there to create conversation, not to be taken as a definitive theory. But he does state that the main reason he fashions this theory is to counter his main complaint about Huffman’s work: “Where I think Huffman’s idea is weakest is in its treatment of Great Zimbabwe as a single community, almost as a village writ large, and as a static one in which the entire pattern of settlement remained more or less the same over at least two centuries.” Beach describes Great Zimbabwe as a political center and one that had a slow decline, not a sudden one. The leaders as they came into power at different times, lived in different sections of the city. They were able to copy Mapungubwe’s design and, over time were able to control most all of the region including its predecessor Mapungubwe. Other satellite areas were built in the style of Great Zimbabwe and over the centuries the builders improved their technique of stone work. Beach describes political turmoil in ascension for the throne at points over the centuries that lead to military strife occasionally. The city slowly declines after 1450 with emigration of factions and competition from the Khami and Mutapa states until the city is finally abandoned.

Overall, the comments by colleagues support the criticism by Beach of Huffman’s conclusions. They tend to agree with Beach’s denouncement of using oral history in Great Zimbabwe’s case and also seem to generally agree with Huffman’s inappropriate use of Portuguese documents. The commentators also agree that Huffman’s static view of Great Zimbabwe not changing much for about three hundred years and then suddenly collapsing are unfounded as well. They all agree to a much more dynamic city that Huffman does not account for. Some comments give credit for Huffman’s latest paper on Great Zimbabwe where he does change his mind on certain aspects that Beach holds him accountable for.

Beach’s reply to the comments are start by explaining that his criticism was already published before Huffman’s latest paper had been so Beach retracts those statements that Huffman had already changed his mind about. Beach defends his criticism of Huffman’s ideas on initiation rites in Great Zimbabwe due to the negative evidence of the 400 years of Portuguese documents not mentioning anything about them. Beach again claims that his imaginary hypothesis on the politics of the Great Zimbabwe state, are not something likely to be proved nor disproved. The theory is only to lead the discussion in a new way that is more probable than Huffman’s.

JASON COURTNEY Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Beach, David. Cognitive Archaeology and Imaginary History at Great Zimbabwe. Current Anthropology February, 1998 Vol.39(1):47-72.

In this article, Beach examines and criticizes Thomas Huffman’s reconstruction of sites in Great Zimbabwe especially concerning time, space, and discipline. The space that was once Great Zimbabwe is now occupied by speakers of the Shona language. Huffman’s work on Great Zimbabwe began in the 1980’s because of a large interest in the distinctive stone architecture. Beach stresses that Great Zimbabwe and its associated sites offer many opportunities for cross-disciplinary studies. Huffman is a cognitive archaeologist, yet he relies heavily upon oral traditions of the Shona people. Beach notes that connections between features of the ruins and modern Shona material culture cause speculation. He notes here that Shona people themselves are speculators, however, there is few documents that refer to stone architecture. Huffman refers to many Portuguese documents to backup his ideas concerning stone architect in Zimbabwe. There is much confusion and contradiction regarding the construction of some of the stone buildings. Claims have been made by numerous groups, for example the Nambiya and the Hera and even the Europeans. Throughout the entire article, Beach reiterates the fact that Huffman’s use of oral traditions should be viewed with caution. He also states that the data is fragmented and selective to topics of social purpose leaving out those topics of tradition, origin and meaning.

Beach also reviews an earlier article by Huffman “The Cognitive Archaeology of Great Zimbabwe” which states two crucial developments, the date and African origin of the stone structures, and the ordinary dwellings of the town of Great Zimbabwe. Both of these developments are vita to the discussion concerning the site as an almost complete socioeconomic unit. Beach notes that Huffman’s move from spatial analysis to cognitive archaeology may also be a third crucial development in research on Great Zimbabwe. He examines the political processes of the Shona society because it is an aspect that Huffman failed to recognize. Beach states that this information will be difficult to extract from the archaeology of preliterate societies, however he looks at historical documents on the civil war in Mutapa. Beach also reviews Huffman’s article titled “Snakes and Birds: Expressive Space at Great Zimbabwe”. The article is an imaginary site map of Great Zimbabwe examining the Geographic’s of Zimbabwe people. Again, Beach stresses the dubious use of oral traditions. The last article Beach reviews is “Where You Are the Girls Gather to Play: The Great Enclosure at Great Zimbabwe”. In this article, Huffman stresses the geographical layout of the site at Great Zimbabwe.

Beach follows in Huffman’s foot steps by suggesting a model that uses oral traditions and documentary evidence. He calls this method his working hypothesis which stimulates the debate and shows that the same information can form different images. He believes that Huffman’s weakest argument states the idea that Great Zimbabwe has remained a single static community. He proves this with his political model of the settlement and geographical layout of Great Zimbabwe. His major argument or concern is that there are many variations that can come out of oral traditions. He states that his model is plausible but based on imagination.


The commentators seem to think Beach’s argument is plausible and his criticisms convincing. They agree with Beach that Great Zimbabwe is an exceptional site for testing interdisciplinary studies. They state that he did a job well done proving the misunderstandings and manipulative selections of Huffman’s data. They also agree that Huffman seems to be overlooking possibilities with regards to politics. The commentators do note some ambiguity. Loubser states that Beaches methodological concerns are justified, but this does not mean anthropologists should abandon oral traditions altogether. This is a very valid point considering the articles negative attitudes towards oral traditions.


Beach replies first by pointing out that clarity is not easily achieved, especially for Great Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe is very complex and so are Huffman’s papers. He defends himself by stating that he does not criticize all the oral traditions Huffman uses just some and mainly those that are fit into the arguments. He concludes by noting that collaborative work is needed to better understand the history of Great Zimbabwe.

ELIZABETH M. KERSHAW Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Beteille, Andre. The Idea of Indigenous People. Current Anthropology, April 1998. vol. 39, (2): 187- 192.

Beteille’s commentary discusses the historical background that was once the forefront of anthropology, which is what he describes as interest in “primitive” or “preliterate cultures or societies” He argues that although anthropology was started through the examination and studies of the people throughout the world, it is still done today and thus the classification of groups of people have caused many problems.

These problems start with the definition of tribes or tribal communities. There are many different kinds of tribes throughout the world and though there exist many similarities between them, the differences amongst them are equal to that. He states that some of the best ethnographies do not use working definitions to describe a “so called tribe”. This is because; the general definition of a tribe is a self-contained primitive and isolated group of people. Using this definition in many places can be a contradiction to itself. The best example of this is in South Asia. He states that there are numerous tribes in South Asia that have co-existed together for many years. While this definition may work to fit North American or Australian tribes where before white immigration tribes where living isolated, Asia has no physical or racial observed trait differences between non-tribal and tribal people.

Beteille moves on to discuss the term “indigenous” and the definition of indigenous people exhibits many discursive problems as well. He explains that indigenous people are a group of people that have always existed in the area which they currently live. However, with in anthropology that is not the case of many so called “indigenous people”. Many anthropologists use the term indigenous to refer to people who live in places that are only isolated or different from the contemporary society that exists around them. He then asks the question of what is too be done regarding this issue? He states indigenous is used the same as “native” and in many cases and both are often wrongly stated. Native should apply only to North America and Australia, even though many people use native to describe a person even when they are not in their native homeland. An example is when Indians or Aborigines are in Great Britain, he asks why is it that people will still refer to these people as natives. He is not just discussing the general public, but specifically anthropologists that do this.

In the end of his commentary he dabbles into a possible reason why this could be which he explains as moral excitation among anthropologists of today. He states that organizational disciplines and the definitions used by many of them today are causing much confusion in the intellectual world, and furthermore are providing ideological ammunition to those who want to reorganize the world by claims of blood and soil.

ELIZABETH PESTA Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Beteille, Andre. The Idea of Indigenous People. Current Anthropology April, 1998 Vol. 39(2):187-191.

In this article, Beteille discusses the concept of indigenous peoples. He asserts that it is problematic because it lacks a clear definition, and as a result does not function to distinguish between different social groups. The term indigenous lacks meaning and applicability, and has simply become the replacement word for “native” in contemporary anthropological discourse.

With this concern in mind, Beteille suggests some concepts that should apply to the term indigenous. He begins by stating that the term refers to a particular type of society, and defines two features of that society; indigenous peoples possess a history of settlement in a particular geographic area, and have had that settlement usurped by foreign populations. Beteille does not intend for this description to be a definition of indigenous because the ideas he presents are themselves problematic. A history of settlement may be difficult to demonstrate in some cases, and in other cases different groups may be able to demonstrate long-term settlement in the same area. At the same time, many areas have histories of continuous population movement and, correspondingly, population displacement. In some cases, population displacement is a consequence of foreign settlement, and in other cases it is the result of relations between long-term occupants of larger geographic regions. The issue is further complicated by the fact that, in some areas, it is difficult to differentiate groups on the bases of physical appearance, language, and, at least to an extent, culture. The point is, despite a conception of what an indigenous population should be, it can be a complicated task to associate one group as being indigenous to a given area instead of another.

The term indigenous is important because it represents an effort to distinguish between different social groups. Such a distinction is necessary from both a theoretical and practical perspective. Anthropological theory requires some way of accurately and meaningfully describing indigenous populations. With regard to contemporary social problems, the designation ‘indigenous’ is often the basis from which legal and constitutional rights are defined, and from which social problems are understood and addressed. For these reasons, it is important that the idea of indigenous peoples becomes meaningfully elaborated and fully understood.

BEN VAN DER GRACHT Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Boesch, Christophe and Michael Tomasello. Chimpanzee and Human Cultures. Current Anthropology, December 1998. vol. 39 (5): 591- 614.

In this article, Boesch and Tomasello discuss the notion of culture by specifically discussing differences between humans and chimpanzees. Their central theoretical point of this article states that culture is in fact monolithic within a group of organisms. This is done by examining different types of social learning processes which lead to cultural traditions with human and chimpanzee groups. By examining their (human and chimps.) cultural differences they argue that it is evident that chimps may exhibit a form of culture that has not been researched long and hard enough to determine.

The article begins by discussing the problem with the definition of culture. Boesch and Tomasello argue that culture has a different meaning to practically every social science. Furthermore, within most social sciences exists different definitions. The basic dichotomy between the biological approach and the psychological one is very different when discussing “culture”. Boesch and Tomasello have come up with criteria for naturally occurring behavior to meet in order to explain culture. This criteria states that; if two groups of the same species differ in behavior with a countable number of individuals conforming, and if there are no obvious differences in the environment of these two groups; and if there are no genetic differences between the individuals that acquire the behavior with those that do not, then an organism displays culture. Thus, according to this developed criteria, chimps have displayed some form of “culture”.

The second half of the article is spent discussing the ways an individual acquires a particular practice; focusing again on chimps. According to “psychologists” this is “social learning”, when one individual is behaving similarly to another. This can be learned thru either instrumental or communicative behaviors.

ELIZABETH PESTA Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Boesch, Christophe and Michael Tomasello. Chimpanzee and Human Cultures. Current Anthropology December, 1998 Vol.39(5):591-614.

This article deals with the similarities and differences between human and chimpanzee cultures. The authors come from different backgrounds and have varying theoretical approaches and they say that their paper is an attempt to reconcile these differences. They also state that they hope to guide future research in the direction of what is most important to understand about chimpanzee cultures. In this article, Boesch and Tomasello argue that evolutionary roots may be shared between human and chimpanzee populations because they share many cultural similarities. They begin by stating that there are many different views regarding culture, and different disciplines approach culture in different ways. They set up a basic dichotomy between biological and psychological approaches to the problem of understanding culture.

The first section discusses specific population behaviors among chimpanzees. It examines the cultural behaviors of four different groups of wild chimpanzees from an evolutionary perspective. Boesch and Tomasello describe the different ways in which humans and chimpanzees acquire certain behavior with genetic transmission, individual learning and social learning. They examine population specific behaviors among chimpanzees and how certain ones are present or absent in different populations and also how the form and function of behaviors can differ between populations. The next section deals with the patterns of dissemination that occur within populations. They examine how social structure affects information transfer and all the ways that individuals can select different cultural variants.

The third section deals with different types of social learning, which produce different behavioral practices and evolving cultural traditions. It evaluates both instrumental and communicative learning as ways in which behavior becomes relatively uniform within a group. The authors discuss emulation learning as used by both chimpanzee and human populations and they also talk about imitative learning, which is definitely used by humans, and may or may not be used by chimpanzees. In the last section, the authors examine some recent research on social learning among captive chimpanzees. They state that the ratchet effect, definitely found among humans, may be found among chimpanzee populations as well, but that chimpanzees have not been studied long enough to find proper evidence of it. In the conclusion, Boesch and Tomasello state that they can only focus on the similarities and differences between human and chimpanzee cultures, because they cannot safely make a conclusion as to the shared evolutionary roots as there are still too many questions that need answering.


In the comments following the article, there are three major issues brought up. Each commentator has his or her own views regarding culture, which are not the same as Boesch and Tomasello’s idea. Some of the commentators say the ratchet effect can happen at different speeds and that it could be possible for ratcheting to exist among Chimpanzee populations. Another issue brought up by the commentators is with the evidence presented throughout the article. One commentator brings up the point that the authors only examine four different chimpanzee populations, while ethnographic data exist on at least thirty-five. The commentators also note that discussion is mainly about chimpanzee populations and no evidence is presented regarding human cultural processes.


The authors state that they knew they would be criticized in their attempt to compromise between biological and psychological views of culture and that nobody in the field can agree so the fact that nobody agrees with their interpretation means it is probably somewhere in the middle. In response to the comment that the ratchet effect could exist among chimpanzee populations, the authors state that it is likely that all cultures can rapidly accumulate information and the fact that we have not yet seen this effect with chimpanzees suggests that it is improbable, but not entirely impossible.

KARLA DOW Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Boone, James L. and Eric Alden Smith. Is it Evolution Yet? Current Anthropology, June 1998 V. 39 (Supplement): 141-173.

The theory of evolution is most commonly associated with biological changes. However, in James L. Boone and Eric Alden Smith’s article, “Is it Evolution Yet?” this theory is discussed in terms of archeological evidence. They compare two interpretations of this type of archaeology and give examples of how these interpretations are applied to actual archaeological examples.

In the article Boone and Smith point out that while both evolutionary archaeology and evolutionary ecology address archaeology in terms of natural selection there is an intrinsic disagreement between the two schools of thought. The two schools of thought differ in the way they incorporate phenotypes into their conclusions. Boone and Smith present evolutionary ecology as a more plausible explanation for the changes over time in the archaeological record.

These theories depend upon the concept of artifacts being components of the human phenotype. Therefore changes in the archaeological record reflect changes in human phenotypes. Evolutionary archaeologists see phenotypic change over time as caused by natural selection directly acting on cultural variation while evolutionary ecologists argue that selection acting on heritable variation is only one of several developments which changes the frequency of phenotypic variants through time. Therefore natural selection also plays an important part in these interpretations.

The example of the use of snowmobiles in the subarctic is used in the article to demonstrate how the two schools of thought are applied. Through the adaptation to the use of snowmobiles the people living in this area have been able to increase the amount of food they are able to hunt and forage. With this increase in food supply, a larger number of offspring survive to reproductive age. Boone and Smith characterize this within the framework of evolutionary theory through the idea that humans inherit evolved cognitive abilities that allow them to acquire resources that will produce the highest net gains.

Boone and Smith conclude their article by stating that while they see evolutionary archaeology and evolutionary ecology are helpful to interpretation, they are not all inclusive. According to the article, these theories allow archaeologists to study behavioral adaptation as evolution in the archaeological record.

James L. Boone and Eric Alden Smith received eleven comments in response to “Is it Evolution Yet?”. While most of the commentors praised the two for writing on the subject of evolutionary archaeology and evolutionary ecology, they see the argument as flawed. The argument of Boone and Smith is often seen as too simplistic for the commentors. In their reply, Boone and Smith address the issues of the commentors in five subsections. Each of the subsections answer certain questions posed by a couple different commentors.

KATIE LATHAM Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Brown, Michael F. Can Culture Be Copyrighted? Current Anthropology April, 1998 Vol.39(2):193-222

In this compelling article, author Michael Brown tackles a complicated issue: the moral necessity and difficulty of protecting the cultural property of indigenous peoples versus the question of reasonable access to such materials. Along the way, he questions by what means these materials should and could be protected.

The article begins with an example of drawings of a Navajo healing ritual that were found in a museum. These drawings, perhaps made surreptitiously, were based on images that are traditionally destroyed at the end of the ritual. The museum staff worried that the presence of these drawings in their collection was disrespectful or, worse, a violation of privacy norms.

This question illuminates problems faced by archivists and curators in light of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Although few anthropologists would deny the legitimacy of the spirit of NAGPRA, questions abound regarding the limits of the law. Specifically, what kinds of material are, and should be protected? According to Brown, the Apache define those materials protected by NAGPRA as including “all images, text, ceremonies, music, songs, stories, symbols, beliefs, customs, ideas and other physical and spiritual objects and concepts” (Brown 1998:194).

The point of the article, according to the author, is to broaden the debate regarding the status of indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights. Brown believes that current thinking focuses more on advocacy than on broader issues regarding the protection of intellectual property. Anthropologists are implicated in this process, desiring to empower and protect their subjects, but failing to address how we might maintain the flow of information necessary to what Brown somewhat ambiguously calls a “liberal democracy”.

Indigenous peoples’ desire to regain control of their cultural intellectual property is confounded by the fact that “culture” is not a fixed, corporeal thing, but a flexible set of understandings, dispositions and behaviors that change over time (Brown 1998:197). It is further changed by contact with other groups, such that an outside group might incorporate indigenous practices or ideas into their own lives. According to Brown, this is not an attempt to “steal” ideas, or intellectual property, such as a song or a manuscript, but is a natural consequence of contact between cultural groups. As such, Brown appears to be skeptical of some indigenous intellectual property rights protection proposals. A different situation occurs when multinational corporations copyright cultural information, such as medicinal knowledge, for their exclusive profit. In cases such as this, Brown emphatically believes that a process of compensating indigenous people for the use of their knowledge is necessary.

This is a thoughtful, well-balanced argument regarding the rights of indigenous people and their desire to protect their cultural knowledge. Commentaries on the article were generally positive, falling into two broad categories defined by the author himself. First were those who would move from analysis toward the creation of concrete policy. Other respondents were more concerned with broader issues, including property rights, questions regarding the ownership of knowledge, and concerns over the rights of ethnic groups in multicultural states (Brown 1998: 218).

Brown responds to these comments by discussing three areas in which he and most commentators agreed. First, the language used to discuss social problems is often a problematic and insufficient means of dealing with real problems. Second, most agreed that exclusive claims of cultural ownership might lead to problematic notions of ethnic nationalism. Finally, there was general agreement that if nothing else, the heated debate over cultural property is a sign of the increased empowerment of native peoples. Brown concludes the article by addressing specific concerns raised by several commentators that are beyond the scope of this review.

GLENN L. PLANCK Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Brown, Michael F. Can Culture Be Copyrighted? Current Anthropology April, 1998 Vol. 39(2):193-222.

In this article, Brown addresses the current legal problems that are associated with intellectual property rights (IPRs). He then opens the discussion of cultural sensitivity, as well as legal aspects of copyright, patent, and the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

Following this introduction, Brown proceeds to discuss the vagueness of current law with regard to IPRs. He outlines a current shift in the way that cultural information is viewed and perceived, outlining three main causes: 1) that an ethnic nation has comprehensive rights in its own cultural ideas and products 2) that said group’s relationship to these products and ideas constitute ownership, and 3) that cultural information gathered in the past is contaminated with colonialism and therefore does not meet the criteria of informed consent

Because of these perceptions, Brown acknowledges the need for changes to be made regarding IPRs. He begins by outlining some of the problems. Of major significance is appropriation of knowledge by transnational corporations. Brown states that commercial interests from the developed world seek out information from unprotected indigenous groups. They then gain patent or copyright over this information and form a legal monopoly over it.

Brown also highlights other problems that are not often discussed in academic literature. For example, he points out the appropriation of indigenous ritual and religion by middle class “Indian wannabees”. Also discussed is the difficulty in recognizing cultural material, since culture cannot be strictly definable by geography, membership, or any other concrete factor. He then offers different theories and options that could potentially bring solutions to the problem of IPRs. The first potential solution is to eliminate copyright altogether, allowing information to be free to all of society. However, Brown recognizes that major problems with this argument exist. His second proposed solution involves creating new legislation in order to address the recently developed legal phenomenon of IPR.

In closing, Brown voices his personal support for clear guidelines regarding all intellectual property, and he urges other anthropologists to voice their objections to the patenting of plants, objects, DNA, ritual, and other indigenous property. He also looks for support from the general public, as their sympathy and support can influence the creation of new protective legislation.


Clevelend praises Brown for producing an insightful and stimulating critique that clears some of the confusion over the intellectual property debate. Similarly, Descola states that Brown contributes a fair and subtle treatment of a difficult topic. However, Coombe states that she is uncomfortable with democracy defined by the full access to all cultural forms, and Karlsson sees Brown as attacking Hopi and Apache peoples for keeping their practices secretive. This view is not shared with Powers, who states “Brown’s essay is a cool-headed discussion of the broad array of issues in the debate regarding intellectual property rights” (212).


In response, Brown addresses the consensus among peers that the legal issues surrounding IPRs is problematic. He then responds to both Coombe and Karlsson. In regard to Coombe, he blatantly states that she is mistaken because he does not think that freedom of access outweighs other aspects of the intellectual property rights debate. For Karlsson he also offers a clear reply, arguing that his statements about Hopi and Apache peoples have been misconstrued. He has offered these groups as an example of people who voice a clear expression of their position in the debate. Therefore, they are an example to other indigenous people. Brown also asserts that a respect for Hopi and Apache views does not result in a total agreement with them, nor does it mean that he is against their decisions. In conclusion, Brown hopes that his article will cause people to pause and think over the IPR issue before supporting the appropriation of cultural property.

PATRICIA GOOCH Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

d’Errico, F., Zilhao, M., Baffier, D., and Pelegrin, J. Neanderthal Acculturation in Western Europe? Current Anthropology, June 1998 Vol.39 (Supplement): S1-S37.

This article is a critique and refutation of the idea that the bone tools, personal ornaments, and stone tools of the Middle to early Upper Paleolithic in Europe are a result of the acculturation and replacement of late Neanderthal populations by modern humans. The authors propose that the archaeological record does not support this model, but rather shows evidence of an original and independent cultural evolution of Western Europe’s late Neanderthals.

The authors summarize the opposing argument by highlighting six hypotheses and conditions which must be verifiable in order for the acculturation model to be correct. These are: 1. evidence of postdepostional disturbance, 2. if products of trade of collection, no traces of in situ manufacture, 3. if products of imitation, they should be identical to the Aurignacian, 4. if learned, conceptual models should be identical to Aurignacian and discontinuous with technologies preceding contact, 5. technologies cannot have occurred before first appearance of Aurignacian in Europe and 6. evidence of extinction of Neanderthals and replacement by modern humans.

They go on to dispute these conditions with evidence taken from the excavations at the archaeological site Grotto du Renne. The stratigraphy and chronology of the site revealed a sequence of archaeological layers attributed to the Mousterian, Chatelperronian, Aurignacian, and Gravettian. This data is presented in table format which shows the stratigraphic units and the corresponding lithology, carbon-14 dates, human remains, and the cultural attributation of each layer.

Each hypothesis and condition of the acculturation model is evaluated in depth by examining specific technologies in question and techniques of their manufacture found at the Grotto du Renne and other sites. The first hypothesis evaluated is postdepostional disturbance which is refuted by lack of evidence of mixing between the Aurignacian and Chatelperronian layers. The second hypothesis, products of trade or collection, is refuted through evidence of waste products of bone manufacture and the matching of worked bones with by-products of their fabrication found in the Chatelperronian layer. Both the imitation and leaned hypotheses are refuted through evidence of significant differences in types of tools, raw materials, frequencies of types, and procedures of manufacture in Chatelperronian and Aurignacian layers.

The chronology necessary for acculturation is also discussed with an analysis of radiocarbon dates and chronostratigraphy concluding that Chatelperronian technologies predate those of Aurignacian and are not the result of a long period of contact with modern humans. The authors also use a parallel analysis of the relationship between Iberian Neanderthals and modern humans which resulted in Neanderthals maintaining their culture rather than being acculturated despite contact with a neighboring population of Homo sapien sapiens.

The authors conclude this article by moving forward from a rejection of the acculturation model to new approaches for analyzing late Neanderthal cultures. This includes re-evaluating the presumed biologically based intellectual superiority of modern humans and considerations of the use of symbols in a Neanderthal cultural system. The authors encourage these new approaches to be used in further research on this time period.

Commentary is made on the above article by a number of anthropologists with varying degrees of complementary and contrasting viewpoints. Some express agreement with the authors conclusions and reconfirm the validity of their evidence. Others raise various concerns with the article including lack of evidence in the phase between Middle and Upper Paleolithic, plausibility of some cultural exchange between populations, the meaning of the term “acculturation” and its possible confusion with intellectual inferiority, dismissing of particular radiocarbon dates, the possible invalidity of comparison between Chatelperronian and Aurignacian technologies, and the stratigraphic integrity of the Grotto du Renne, among others.

The authors reply by clarifying and further developing some of the issues raised by the commentators including the validity of the stratigraphy at the Grotto du Renne site, possible disturbances at other sites, the chronology of the Chatelperronian and the Aurignacian, and their interpretation of the term acculturation. They use these points of empirical evidence to re-emphasize the importance of challenging the assumed inferiority of the Neanderthals as a new perspective to be used in future investigations of this time period.

JESSICA KEENER Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight).

D’Errico, Francesco et al. Neanderthal Acculturation in Western Europe? A Critical Review of the Evidence and Its Interpretation. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol. 39(Supplement):S1-S39.

This article focuses on the biological and cultural interactions between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans, as well as the reevaluation of Chatêlperronian technology using empirical analysis of stratigraphic, chronological and archaeological data. D’Errico et al. argue that recent data gathered at the Grotte du Renne site call into question archaeological traditional thought: that cultural artifacts such as bone tools and personal ornaments appearing along side “modern” stone tools during the Middle Paleolithic or Aurignacian Paleolithic periods suggested the acculturation of late Neanderthal populations.

The authors consider the traditional interpretive model of independent development or imitation in their empirical systematic analysis. The traditional interpretive model of independent development asserts Neanderthals were biologically and intellectually inferior, having acquired “modern” technology through acculturation, imitation, trade, and/or collection. The following hypotheses were used in the assessment of stratigraphic, chronological and archaeological data. First, the complete replacement of Neanderthals by anatomically modern humans was responsible for the assemblage of New Lithic technology. Second, co-habitation of regions by Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans, led to the acculturation as evidenced by the assemblage of blade and stone technology, as well as personal ornamentation normally associated with Upper Paleolithic material culture.

The empirical analysis of the Grotte du Renne supports the assertion that Neanderthals did have the intellectual capacity to manufacture stone and bone tools and personal ornaments, thereby dismissing the traditional school of thought. The authors’ empirical analysis is based of the following; first, the Szeletian and the Bohunician are similar to pre-Aurignacian technocomplexes made by Neanderthals in Central & Eastern Europe. second, identification of bone and personal ornaments are from similar areas and time ranges. Third, the Chatêlperronian and Aurignacian periods will never stratigraphically overlap. Lastly, early Aurignacian industry will never be found in Iberian regions South of the Ebro.


Commentators remain for the most part skeptical of the authors’ departure from traditional thinking of Neanderthals’ biological and intellectual inferiority. Many reassert the existence of outside colonization of the Neanderthal populations by anatomically modern humans. In sum, the majority of the commentators accept the Neanderthal/ anatomically modern humans transitional evolution hypothesis.


The authors note enthusiastically that the commentators agree with the empirical patterns presented, as well as the acceptance that artifacts located at Chatêlperronian levels are in situ and were manufactured locally. However, the authors continue to be frustrated by comments made regarding the stratigraphic data analysis which, continue to support, the hypotheses of post-depositional disturbance, imitation, trade and/or collection as the only way to account for the assemblage of artifacts.

JOYCE GIFFORD Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Erlandson, Jon McVey. CA Forum on Anthropology in Public: The Making of Chumash Tradition: Replies to Haley and Wilcoxon. Current Anthropology Vol. 39(4) Aug-Oct., 1998: 477-510

Haley and Wilcoxon’s article, “Anthropology and the Making of Chumash Tradition”, which appeared in Current Anthropology in 1997 (Vol. 38:761-94) sparked a debate on the role that anthropologists play in determining authenticity of cultural claims. Erlandson states, “anthropologists should not act as the sole arbiters of truth and justice, the diviners of who is or is not Indian, or the creators of simplistic stereotypes that exacerbate factionalism within the Indian tribes or interfere in tribal self-determination” (CA, 39:484). King agrees, “[t]he beliefs of societies should be evaluated by the members of the societies, not by outsiders” (CA, 39:485). In this CA Forum numerous voices are heard, and it appears that all of them have some sort of criticism regarding the processes, definitions, and conclusions that Haley and Wilcoxon assert in their article. For the most part these in-depth responses are concerned with various forms of the “authentication” of myths, histories, and traditions by scholars such as anthropologists.

Erlandson’s main criticism was the fact that Haley and Wilcoxon seemed bent on proving that “Traditionalist” interpretations of Chumash traditions were in fact based on, and reinforced by, the interpretations of anthropologists. In their reply they deny that this was their focus, but instead insist that they set out to show the impact that anthropological work has on Native American cultures (and any culture for that matter). King on the other hand points out that Haley and Wilcoxon are not consistent in defining “Traditionalist” and “non-Traditionalist” in their article and original response. This is a problem that is pointed out by many of the authors in this article, and it is cleared up in the reply. Haley and Wilcoxon insist that they are using the terms in the way that those who are labeled prefer to be called. Ruyle notes that Haley is quoted in the Santa Barbara News-Press on December 26, 1997 as saying, “The Chumash never shared a vision of themselves as a people. The notion of a Chumash people – culture, tribe or nation – all of that is a product of anthropology.” Interestingly, Haley does not clarify on this statement, and possibly has no reason to do so. In their response Haley and Wilcoxon make it clear that the best records available describe the indigenous peoples of this region as being comprised of many different, though culturally similar groups. The incorporation of the media into this debate sparked many in the Chumash community, and the Native American community at large, to harden their stance against anthropologists – regardless, Haley and Wilcoxon believe that this debate should in fact be public. The other major concern was the economic interest that Haley and Wilcoxon have in discrediting “Traditionalists” who have established a cultural resource consulting firm, which many of the authors say is in direct competition with Wilcoxon and Associates. The assertion is that since nowhere in the original article is this economic tie mentioned that it was purposefully omitted. Haley and Wilcoxon deny this claim on the grounds that there are many consultant firms and to the best of their knowledge there has never been a bid made by them against a Native American consulting group. But, it is strikingly interesting that many of the professional authors noted this omission and discrepancy. This is an interesting debate and an important topic for the discipline of anthropology.

JONATHAN KIMMEL Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight).

Erlandson, Jon McVey. The Making of Chumash Tradition. Current Anthropology August-October, 1998 Vol. 39(4):477-510.

This article is a response to a previous paper by Haley and Wilcoxon, colleagues of Erlandson at the University of Oregon. Erlandson questions some of the conclusions reached by Haley and Wilcoxon about the Chumash people as he has also worked with them for over 20 years as an archaeologist. One of the major issues is the notion that the Chumash are an anthropological construct rather than a nation of people. Haley and Wilcoxon dispute the validity of Chumash claims to their heritage. Erlandson argues that although their society was thrown into turmoil at the time of colonization and there was much intermarriage with white, Hispanic and other Native Americans, they are still a cohesive group and have the right to control of their ancestral territories. There is a great deal of political content to this paper. Historical background of the Chumash opens the paper and details the devastation that occurred after European contact through disease and during the process of missionization. Erlandson mentions that some salvage ethnography did take place with the Chumash.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, while all the emancipation and civil rights movements were underway, American Natives and other ethnic minorities began to declare their ethnic and cultural heritage, including the Chumash. There are only about 3000 individuals who have claimed their Chumash ancestry. Erlandson discusses the debate surrounding the authenticity of their claims. He defends himself against allegations that he was only concerned with one group of Chumash and details his involvement with other groups of Chumash besides the one in question in this particular study.

Another debate in the paper is the discussion surrounding the sacredness of Point Conception, also referred to as the “Western Gate”. This is a pivotal issue because of proposed construction of gas pipelines and developments by large corporations through Chumash territory. Erlandson was involved in these negotiations on behalf of the Chumash. The Chumash believed this to be an area that was sacred to their ancestors and therefore inviolate. Another point of contention is the descent of “Family A” which is an important point in Haley and Wilcoxon’s paper. Erlandson names the family he believes they were talking about and lays waste to Haley and Wilcoxon’s allegation that this is not actually a Chumash family.

Some of the discussion here becomes pointed and political with Erlandson disputing Haley and Wilcoxon’s notions that since the Chumash are really only an anthropological construct, they can have no claims to ancestral territory or sacred sites. Erlandson also analyzes the argument made by Haley and Wilcoxon that the Chumash people themselves bear little or no claim to a partnership in managing their past since they don’t really have one as a group. Erlandson states that cultural verification is not the problem here and that anthropologists must guard carefully against minimizing their role in the politics surrounding their work. He concludes by restating that the attitude portrayed by Haley and Wilcoxon is “an attempt to discredit a potentially powerful competitor for lucrative archaeology contracts” (484).


The comments include a response from a firm called Topanga Anthropological Consultants, apparently named in the article, taking exception with the way they are depicted. An elder from another band of California Indians (this is what she calls herself) feels that natives’ survival is again threatened as it was with colonization when questions of their ancestry arise. There are several lengthy comments from others discussing the relative merits of archaeology and its relationship to political and economic interests in the dominant culture.


The reply comes from Haley and Wilcoxon and they begin by stating that their interest lies “in anthropologists’ various roles… including… traditional-cultural-property evaluation of Point Conception, California…” (501). They acknowledge that some of the other commentators are also authorities on the Chumash identity and tradition and addresses their concerns one by one. They state that the definition of “traditionalist”, “nontraditionalist” and “traditionalism”, an important part of the argument about validity of Chumash claims to aboriginal status, is misunderstood by some of the commentators. They reiterate the importance of the anthropologist recognizing him/herself in their work, a postmodernist approach. Further study and attention to this dilemma is welcomed.

KARIN MEUSER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Gordon, Matthew and Jeffery Heath. Sex, Sound Symbolism, and Sociolinguistics. Current Anthropology, 1998, vol. 39 (4): 421-449.

Gordon and Heath argue that, regardless of language, females and males are attracted asymmetrically to opposite poles of the vowel spectrum, females favoring the high front unrounded (i) while males prefer the back rounded (o) or (a). This hypothesis is intended to link the contemporaneous findings of sociolinguists: first, vowel systems cycle in unidirectional rotations; second, females lead linguistic changes while males trail behind. After discussing many theoretical issues about female-led vowel shifts, Gordon and Heath look to steady-state vocalic data collected from English and Arabic speakers as evidence. The argument is predicated on the research of Labov; however, the authors intend to update his and others’ variationist methodology. They believe such methodology limits the interpretation of the finding that women lead linguistic changes because it focuses ad hoc on phonetic variables after they acquire biased distribution in social space. Although theoretical models of vocal chain shifts as well as the replacement of a linear conception of class with the network strength scale by sociolinguists have been useful, Gordon and Heath hold that vowel qualities have important aesthetic values which inform (but do not limit) the sex-based differences of vowel changes and which have hitherto not been properly contextualized by variationists.

To explain the female propensity for vowel changes in the direction of (i), Gordon and Heath show that certain vowels are correlated with respective symbologies. High front vowels are semantically correlated to diminutives. Furthermore, the authors rely on Ohala’s hypothesis that high front vowels commonly symbolize smallness because they are “characterized by high acoustic frequency”(quoted in Gordon and Heath, 429). Because of the sexual dimorphism of female and male anatomy, especially, related to vocal chords and the larynx, the authors suggest it is the “heart” (ibid. 430) of the phonetic differences. While there biological distinctions are formidable, the authors are careful not to jump to the conclusion that sexual dimorphism is what motivates the sex difference in language; they argue rather that cultural categories of gender and even class inform the difference as well.

With the theory in place, the authors move on to the data, first concentrating on data collected from English speakers, the data collected from Arabic speakers. Evidence from Labov’s New York City and Philadelphia data, Eckert’s study of vowel shifts in suburban Detroit, as well as other studies in Belfast and Vancouver all show that it is women who are leading the vowel shifts toward (i). According to the authors, the Arabic data also concurs with their argument.

The authors warn against the spurious conclusion that because most or all vowel shifts are begun by women and aim towards the high front (i), all vowels will eventually end up as (i). They produce interesting suggestions for how vowel systems maintain homeostasis. The fifth suggestion, the push-chain effect in which the fronting and raising of certain vowels instigates other vowels to compensate by backing and lowering, is considered the most. They end by referencing other anthropological studies, including Labov and Bourdieu, which complement the conclusions of the authors’ argument.


Overall, the comments conditionally accept Gordon and Heath’s argument as put forth in the article. All of the authors in the Comments section worry about oversimplification of the rich experience of language, class, sex and gender, and they wish for more data to be addressed. Niloofar Haeri eloquently expresses anxiety about over-emphasizing physiological asymmetries to explain sex-based linguistic difference. Rosenhouse calls for more in-depth study of the English and Arabic data before she will accept the authors’ hypothesis. Holmes and Britain as well as Zimmerman provide examples that seem to run contrary to the authors’ hypothesis. Zimmerman draws attention to Diffloth’s Bahnar data and shows that correlations of semantics and sound can be easily replaced in a cultural context by a correlation of semantics to the proprioceptive sensations of speaking.


Gordon and Heath accept that the water in which they are working may be muddier than they let on. Still, they contend that their hypothesis holds true and that none of the comments seriously damage it. They agree that diphthongal and consonantal data should be explored to see if the same or a different pattern emerges. The counter-examples that Holmes and Britain put forth are pushed aside by the authors because they do not really discount the argument: “They all involve female-led changes…and…morphological rather than phonetic change”(ibid. 445). They restate their position, critiquing variationist methodology, and hope that this article will instigate sociolinguists to broaden their scope.

CHRISTOPHER SWEETAPPLE Western Michigan University (Dr. Bilinda Straight)

Gordon, Matthew and Jeffery Heath. Sex, Sound, Symbolism, and Sociolinguistics. Current Anthropology August-October, 1998 Vol.39(4):421-449.

Gordon and Heath’s article links elements of sound both to symbolism and gender. The authors focus primarily on phonemes; however, they use biology, anthropology and sociology for both explanations and peripheral support.

They present information with respect to the relationship between differences in male and female vocal tract to explain both phonetic and cultural differences with respect to language change. For instance, the authors cite examples where female lead changes tend to favor [i] and palatalization in both Chinese and English. The authors then proceed to correlate the instances involving the phoneme [i] with words that connote smallness, thereby linking feminine speech to small attributes and inherently high pitch. Furthermore, the authors suggest that because of these biological differences, each sex should lead various vowel changes. For example, changes favoring front, unrounded vowels would tend to be lead by women, while back, rounded vowels would tend to be lead by men because of the innate biological differences that make such vocalization seem more natural for each sex. As such, these differences, according to Gordon and Heath, are a ubiquitous level of linguistics while culture and socialization factors merely interact with and differentiate language from this pre-established biological unity.

The authors also speculate why linguistic changes are more often than not, engineered by women. Consequently, they found that women tend to lead more strenuously towards their biological tendencies than men. Furthermore, the typical sounds of both genders are thought to become associated with the stereotypes of the gender that they characterize. As a result, the sounds associated to women are seen as smaller from the biological symbolism attached to the characteristically favored sounds of men.

This paper makes use of the large, influential and pioneering name of Labov at the opening of nearly all new sections, to not only introduce data and situate that data in a historical context, but also to borrow Labov’s prestige and believability. The paper begins by outlining the historical links between sound symbolism and gender, followed by outlining the process of vowel change. Soon after the concept of gender is introduced into the equation. Next, the authors attempt to link the concept of sound symbolism to gender and to the process of linguistic change as a whole. As supporting evidence, Gordon and Heath draw examples from both English and Arabic, two distinctly unrelated languages, to illustrate the universality of these biologically driven linguistic changes.


It seems that many of the commentators do not wholly agree with the authors. For instance, one critic raises examples involving female lead changes that illustrate the reverse of what Gordon and Heath predicted, such as schwa lowering in some dialects of Norwegian. Most critics agree, however, that the paper offers an interesting perspective, which requires further substantiating evidence. Conversely, other critics argue that the authors omitted far too much detail by not sufficiently focusing their research objectives.


Gordon and Heath on the other hand do not agree with the majority of their critics. Indeed, they defend their position by pointing out that with an integrated paper it is extremely difficult to cover all of the relevant information. However, they agree with some critics who indicated that it is important to study the relationships not only for vowels, but also for diphthongs and consonants.

RYAN McFARLANE Okanagan University College (Diana E French)

Harke, Heinrich. Archaeologists and Migrations-A Problem of Attitude. Current Anthropology February, 1998 Vol.39(1) 19-45

“Archaeologists and Migrations –A Problem of Attitudes”, discusses the relationship between cultural agents, in this case nationality and history, and the interpretation of archaeology. Heinrich Harke, a German educated in both Germany and England, argues that there is a link between the political context in which the archaeologist lives and works, and the interpretations and inferences that the archaeologist makes about archaeological evidence, through such explanatory mechanisms as ethnicity and migration. He begins by comparing the analysis of some of his previous archaeological findings and contrasting British and German conclusions. His work, which involved evaluating 5th -7th century burials in England, reveals that about half of the population (taken from the remains of bodies in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries) was of native British origin and half had Germanic roots. These findings, he posits, were interpreted in such a way by British and German scientists as to reveal the hegemonic political ideologies in each county.

The British reaction was skeptical of a claim of such high numbers of immigrants while the Germans conversely could not believe that so many native British existed at that time. Harke argues that these opposing viewpoints, derived from the exact same evidence, show that the social context and historical experience of groups; the Germans and the British, have a large, determining influence on archaeological knowledge. The British, he says, tend to have a more insular and self-contained view of cultural change. He points to contemporary and historical factors; lack of recent invasions, closer intellectual ties to the U.S. rather than Europe, and the “steady decline in the knowledge of foreign languages”(pg. 20) to help explain British attitudes of cultural self determination.

The Germans attitude is explained by Harke through German ideas surrounding ethnicity. Ethnicity is tied to descent and not location or territoriality, so this in effect, “makes it easier to imagine the movement of large, homogenous “folk” groups and the transfer of their ethnic identity from one area to the next”(pg 21).

Harke goes on to make connections between the social context and archaeological theory of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. He contends that the political ideologies of these countries influenced theory and manipulated the interpretation of archaeological findings. In Nazi Germany a migration mentality was supported by archaeological “evidence”; a Roman Iron Age urn with a swastika on it, found in Poland that demonstrated the migrationist spirit and vitality of Germanic people and helped to reinforce ideas of ethnic superiority.


There are numerous critiques of this article and number of different issues are raised but many of them seem to stem from the idea that Harke’s analysis is oversimplified. Particularly, the idea that archaeologist are controlled by the dominant views within the social context in which they are working is challenged. As Maria Isabel Martinez Navarette criticizes, “Archaeologists are not so enslaved to the contexts in which they work. Complex, multifaceted phenomena are here treated generically and unidimensionally as monolithic, homogenous entities.”(pg. 34) Nandini Rao offers another critique; that Harkes analysis is well known and already readily accepted. His concern is that in using the politically extreme examples of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, subtler forms of political influence in more politically moderate states might be overlooked.


Harke responds to the criticism that his arguments are oversimplified and superficial by acknowledging that this is indeed the case. He contends that a paper like the one that he has written necessarily has to generalize and oversimplify. “I maintain that some generalization must be allowed if we are to avoid being stuck forever in the minutiae of individual cases”(pg. 41)

BOONE W. SHEAR Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Härke, Heinrich. Archaeologists and Migrations: A Problem of Attitude. Current Anthropology February, 1998 Vol.39(1):19-45.

Härke addresses the attitudes of British and German archaeologists and the question of migrations. He suggests that these attitudes have been shaped by political and social experiences, as well as by the respective historical and geographical contexts of the two countries. The author believes that British perceptions of migration have shifted from traditionalist to processualist to post-processualist, and adds insularity to the list of causal factors. He states that this insular outlook may have been reinforced by the steady decline in the knowledge of foreign languages among the younger British archaeologists.

According to Härke, German archaeology is still dominated by a strong migrationist undercurrent. Since 1945, the retreat of German archaeologists has had consequences on the nature of interpretation with the rejection of early carbon dating dates for European prehistory that reinforced diffusionist tendencies. Cases of migrationism of Nazi Germany and Southern Africa are introduced, with a discussion of immobilism of Soviet archaeology. Evidence for the British, German and Soviet argument on migrationism is presented and the statement is made that these cases are intended to highlight the fact that there are political interests in this issue. Härke compares ethnicity with migration, stating that ethnicity is back on the intellectual agenda because of political experiences in the wake of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. This is after being regarded irrelevant during the heyday of processualist archaeology in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The author’s concern on the migration issue is discussed with an example of the question of the origin of the buried male found in an early Anglo-Saxon cemetery. He states that the result has brought different reactions from the British and German. Härke presents his argument with three cases that are effective for his claim. The article concludes with the expectation of migration studies be put back on the agenda in archaeology. The issue of migration and the author’s concern with attitudes in archaeology regarding this issue are well defined by this article.


The commentators were favorable except for the two following. One academic believes that Härke’s focus on the biases of the researchers removed the principal evidence for the study and that this fostered biases that lead to overemphasis. This same commentator declares that Härke provided post-processual equivalents of “Mickey Mouse laws” and states that this article is evidence of the “publish or perish” imperative of British academe. Another academic finds the evidence is harder to find that proves the connection between attitudes and national origins. This commentator also finds Härke’s attitude is ambiguous regarding reality.


In his reply, Härke admits that the commentators have greatly expanded on his observations. He does clarify some misunderstandings and returns to the subject of his paper. The author explains and defends the “simplistic” nature of his arguments. Härke states that this article is an exploratory paper and only offers tentative partial explanations of complex phenomena. He also explains his choices of cases as clear-cut examples since they are extreme. Härke accepts several commentators’ well-informed points and believes that there is a need for further thought on and improvement of our concepts of migrations and our methods of studying them.

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

Hirth, Kenneth. The Distributional Approach: A New Way to Identify Marketplace Exchange in the Archaeological Record. Current Anthropology Aug.-Oct.,1998 Vol. 39(4):451-476.

Kenneth Hirth describes the Distributional Approach as a new way to identify marketplace exchange in pre-Hispanic society. It is evident that the marketplace was a central feature to economics in the Mesoamerican region. Evidence is present; proving the importance of the marketplace in ancient Mesoamerica, but difficulty in further identification of market activity complicates the matter. The archaeological record remains spotty and hard to interpret. Hirth proposes a new methodology, namely, the Distributional Approach, which is more appropriate for archaeologists than other processes. He criticizes other methods, including the spatial approach and the configurational approach, arguing they are not very accurate and need special circumstances to work well. Of the Distributional Approach Hirth says it “attempts a more direct assessment by examining its provisioning function. This approach focuses on the differential distribution of commodities among the society’s primary units of economic consumption.” Hirth details marketplace exchange specific to Mesoamerica in these terms.

It is important to understand marketplace exchange in order to fully grasp how and why economical, political, and social systems developed as they did. Developing the Distributional Approach into something that is a useful tool for Archaeologist would be beneficial in discovering these things.

Hirth focuses on household inventories to explain marketplace exchange. He uses the site at Xochicalco to form his hypothesis. This site has been preserved very well, permitting it to be used and examined by archaeologists who wish to identify these types of things. Thus, it makes it an excellent site on which to use this approach.


Many professionals included comments on the article that differed from each other and from Hirth. Many commented that his proposal was interesting but not the only answer. Hirth seems to agree. Hirth’s analysis is only the beginning, it needs more work, and to be used in corroboration with other methods. Carraso made a comment that it would be beneficial to test the hypothesis in a living society. Overall the commentators agree with what Creamer had to say, “This article pushes archaeology a step closer to understanding ancient exchange.”


Hirth surprisingly takes all the comments into consideration. While he addresses each commentator’s line of reasoning he sticks to his own guns. He splits the discussion into three general parts: “the theoretical value of the distributional approach, the operational limitations facing its application in other areas of Mesoamerica, and the conceptual issue that must be addressed in the broadening and refining the approach for the study of other forms of exchange.” These are the same areas that the commentators had faults, but Hirth probably realized that when he was writing the article in the first place.

DANIELLE NORDBROCK Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Hirth, Kenneth G. The Distributional Approach: A New Way to Identify Marketplace Exchange in the Archaeological Record. Current Anthropology August-October 1998 Vol. 39(4):451-476.

Hirth first explains how centrally important marketplaces were in Mesoamerica between A.D. 650 – 900 in the political and economic life of the people before Spanish contact. A definition of market exchange and the difficulty identifying a marketplace in the archaeological record follows. Ethnographic and ethnohistorical data indicate that marketplaces were autonomous of politics and often survived political regimes, because they provided important functions to everyday people. They supplied the necessities of life, distributed crafts and services and individual households scheduled their activities around them.

The author elaborates on the difficulties of identifying marketplaces in the archaeological record. He also suggests that there is a dearth of appropriate methods and analytical models of study to accomplish finding ancient marketplaces. The article summarizes the problems with the three methods used in the past, and profiles his new approach. First, the configurational approach is not effective because marketplaces leave few material traces and this method relies on spatial and architectural evidence. Second, the contextual approach can only infer the existence of marketplace exchange but cannot study them directly. This is accomplished mainly through evidence of craft specialists such as obsidian craftsmen and the detritus of their work. Third, the spatial approach looks at distribution of manufactured items over large areas as evidence of development of a regional market system. These three approaches are indirect methods of studying market exchange. Hirth’s approach is more direct and is named the distributional approach which studies distribution of commodities among primary consumers. Economic activity of households as producer-vendors provide the most effective means of studying market exchange from material remains. Household archaeology provides evidence of social ranking because homogeneity of items found results from market culture rather than other forms of exchange.

Hirth provides evidence for pre-Hispanic markets at Xochicalco, specifically from his own work. This is a site southwest of Mexico City and home to 10,000-15,000 people at its zenith. It was destroyed in A.D. 900. The presence of marketplaces here is inferred by contextual and configurational evidence but there is no direct evidence. Distributional analysis suggests a variety of forms of exchange were present here. He is able to recover a wide range of household refuse from houses of people of varied social rank. He explains how he arrived at his conclusions regarding social ranking in his paper. Imported ceramics and obsidian tools were central to Hirth’s evaluation of the origin of their manufacture and, hence, the method of their acquisition. Hirth suggests that the distributional approach should be used wherever it is possible to create a cohesive sample of materials from a domestic or ceremonial site. In order to understand the importance of marketplaces in the development of social and political systems, a method to reliably identify them must exist. The distribution approach fulfills this requirement.


One commentator suggests Hirth make use of recent developments in exchange theory and questions individual households as the main unit of study. Another commentator suggests that Hirth test his hypothesis on a living society where acquisition and distribution of commodities is known. Other suggestions are that data from other sites needs to be tested using this method to ensure accuracy of this analytical tool; other forms of exchange may result in the same patterns of distribution described by Hirth for marketplaces. One commented that this paper would bring discussion between archaeologists and anthropologists in a new and productive direction. All agree that distinguishing exchange of materials and services in the archaeological record is an extremely difficult undertaking. There is general support for Hirth’s distributional approach.


Hirth agrees that caution should be used when applying the distributional approach to other sites and that ethnographical and archaeological studies are needed in conjunction with this type of analysis. He responds to concerns raised by all commentators and he argues that some of the disagreement stems from having different definitions for words such as “barter”. He defends his approach and hopes that future work will expand it and allow for more detailed analysis of distribution systems.

KARIN MEUSER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Joffe, Alexander H. Alcohol and Social Complexity in Ancient Western Asia. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol.39(3):297-322.

Joffe clarifies early on in his article that he intends to focus on the creation of alcoholic beverages and their usage in Ancient Western Asia for socioeconomic and political purposes. He proposes that beer/alcohol contributed to societies in Ancient Western Asia by serving as a source of nutrition, aiding in the reorganization of agricultural production for internal and external exchange, encouraging labor mobilization, and posing as an elite symbol. He supports these ideas by presenting three intensive studies researching beer in Egypt, wine in Levant and Egypt, and a study involving a variety of beverages in Mesopotamia.

Joffe begins his article by examining how alcohol fits into the Anthropological perspective, claiming that it is often associated with complex societies, socialization, ritual, and political ties. He then moves on to illustrate the ways in which alcohol consumption is viewed and regulated in the present time. A few ways he suggests are through the assignment of a minimum drinking age and control over who manufactures/distributes alcohol.

In accordance to how alcohol contributed to Ancient Western Asia society, Joffe states, “we know little about the nutritional status of early complex societies” however, he later asserts that beer remained staple in the Egyptian diet and that it has a long history in the circum Mediterranean world.

The way in which Joffe explains alcohol’s contribution to job mobilization in societies is by using the shift of taste. Different areas produced wine/alcohol based on what products and crops were available to them. As elite tastes changed, so did the areas they chose to import from.

Joffe asserts several ways in which alcohol contributed to the reorganization of agricultural production in order for external and/or internal exchange. He uses the case of a village in the Early Bronze age that used wines and oils as a focal point for a new economy arising from the collapse of Chalcolithic. Doing so performed a social web of exchange and interaction between the highlands and lowlands. He also illustrates that the production of crops used to create wine in Levant such as grapes, olives, dates and figs, require “appropriate strategies of labor organization and land tenure,” adding that long-term investment may have resulted in land ownership. Joffe attributes the shift in Egyptian trade from South Levant to North Levant for allowing access to more exotic goods for trade and opening the network for trade with other areas as well. Joffe also makes note that the difference between the signs for “beer” and “bread” in both Egypt and Mesopotamian means of communicating are similar suggesting “an intensified control over production and distribution.”

Alcohol posing as an elite symbol, Joffe ascertains, also helped with developing Ancient Western Asian societies. Although Joffe notes elite drinking apparatuses can be found in “middle class” burials, he contributes this to the redistribution through/by elites. He proclaims foreign wines and drinking containers provided a venue for the display of status as several elites were buried with exotic goods including foreign beverage containers. Joffe also contends that consumption of alcohol in ancient Mesopotamia may have been used by the elites to reward success and reinforce loyalty.


Comments about Joffe’s article include illustrations from Michael Dietler, Christopher Edens, Jack Goody, Stefania Mazzoni and Peter Peregrine. Dietler suggests that instead of noting how it was safer to drink alcohol than water to explain its importance, Joffe could focus on alcohol’s role in feasts. Dietler states that feasts play a large part in linking domestic and political economies.

Edens asserts that Joffe’s article has several complexities. One being that alcohol’s use could not have been a significant factor in gaining and retaining loyalty in Mesopotamia. He suggests individuals were rewarded instead with land and ration of food and/or textiles.

Mazzoni adds to Joffe’s work by proclaiming that beer served as a good nutritional source of protein and sugar, whereas wine in Levant had a lower nutritional value.

Peregrine too doubts that alcohol was used as a labor reward and also that it was used as social control. He credits its depressant property as reason not to disperse it among workers. He points out that Joffe’s article is mainly focused on the elites using alcohol as a power source and ignores the possibility that non-elites (because they were the producers) had a strong power of resistance as well.


In response to Edens, Joffe admits that rationing and feasting are not the only ways of rewarding and reinforcing loyalty. In defense of alcohol given to the labor force, Joffe asserts that some alcoholic beverages had an alcohol content of below one percent; therefore workers would have lowered risks of becoming depressed. In addition, he declares that a state of disorientation may have been desired.

SHERRI BRAINERD Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Joffe, Alexander H. Alcohol and Social Complexity in Ancient Western Asia. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol.39 (3) 297-322.

Joffe’s article shows the relationship between alcohol and the development of complex societies in Western Asia during the third and fourth millennia BC. The author presents three case studies analyzing the use of beer in Egypt, wine in the Levant and Egypt, and a variety of alcoholic beverages in Mesopotamia. He admits that the paper does not present a high level theory because the foundation of the state in the Bronze Age grew out of a series of complex and interrelated processes. He does, however, suggest that the production, the exchange, and the corruption of alcoholic beverages all play a significant role in this process. Alcohol, specifically beer and wine, were used for a variety of socioeconomic and political purposes. Joffe, while investigating labor mobilization and gender relations reviews the importance of alcohol on health, nutrition, religious rituals, and the reorganization of agricultural production for intra and intersocietal exchange.

The author provides general information on the role of alcohol in society. He claims higher population densities and the contamination of water supplies led to a search for alternative drinking sources. Alcoholic beverages reinforced individual and group identities, status, religious beliefs and ritualistic behaviors. The topics included in the study were diverse, from pre-historic groups, to Coca-Cola in the Pre-Hispanic Andes, to the Soviet vodka monopoly under Gorbachev.

The case studies include a map indicating the location of the major sites, as well as incorporating diagrams of ceramic jars, jugs, and seal impressions. Joffe indicates women played a key role in the production activities, such as brewing, weaving, and manufacturing pottery.

The paper concludes with a section entitled Alcohol in Other Complex Societies. This section formulates approximately one third of the entire paper and focuses mainly on the importance of alcohol in the Mediterranean. Joffe compares and contrasts alcohol’s effect on Greek, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese societies as well as ancient Western Asia.


This research is an extension of Michael Dietler’s earlier study on alcoholic beverages in Iron Age Europe, and to a lesser extent, an adaptation on Mintz’s paper on sugar for the modern world. Dietler generally agrees with Joffe’s research. However, he does suggest that Joffe does not thoroughly investigate gender. For the most part, the commentators find the paper interesting but point out certain areas of weakness, such as not accounting for the fact that some non-state societies also brewed beer.


According to Joffe, the purpose for his paper was to present examples of how alcoholic beverages contributed to the formation of complex societies; therefore, he did not intend to suggest that alcohol was the prime motivator in social evolution. He does, however, believe that alcohol is an available tool utilized by the elite for the manipulation of the ‘lower class’. He does attempt to defend his theory, which proposes that poor water quality led to the production of an alcoholic product. He provides the contemporary example of cities where poor quality tap water is often replaced with bottled water for drinking. In response to the remarks regarding a lack of investigation to gender, he claims that biases of class-structured societies inhibit archaeologists’ ability to categorize data. He does concede that gender is an important sphere of research, to which he is able to offer little. Alexander Joffe concludes that the role of alcohol is a minor but significant factor in the creation of a state society.

JAY JOHNSON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Jones, D. Gareth and Harris, Robyn J. Archeological Human Remains Current Anthropology, 1998 Vol. 39(2): 253-63

Jones and Harris convey particular considerations that need to be made surrounding the treatment of human remains. The discussion includes examples from several groups including Aboriginals, Maori groups, and Native Americans among others. Between the scientific community and descendents of human materials exist a debate concerning the treatment of human remains. Indigenous people are concerned about the destruction of their heritage and respect for the mortal remains of the dead. Scientists hope to study remains in their search for information regarding humanity. The authors of this article explore the concerns of those involved in the debate approaching prehistoric and newly discovered remains.

Science views skeletal remains as a vessel through which to obtain information. Knowledge about societal organization, disease, health, genetics, nutrition, life expectancy, population density, surgery, and ritual are a range of topics that that are studied. Within this framework remains are seen as part of the world’s heritage. In opposition, indigenous people are concerned for the respect of ancestors along with religious and cultural aspects. One major factor discussed is the difference in worldviews between the Western science practitioners and indigenous people. Western science has a linear view of time whereas some indigenous cultures view time as circular. In the Western view the past is behind us and the future is stretched out in front. In a circular view of time the past exists in front while the future is behind. These views promote different pictures of self-identity and death.

Ethics is a crucial factor when trying to combine the views of these different groups in order to find a solution. Jones and Harris approach this by looking at three variables: the age of the skeletal material, the time the material was unearthed, and the manner of death for the deceased. By assessing these variables decisions can be made regarding who has sovereignty over the material and if research can be done. In the authors’ opinion a balance should be achieved between sets of interest leaning toward the indigenous groups if a line of descent is established.

DARYL STEWART Western Michigan University (Dr. Bilinda Straight)

Jones, D. Gareth and Robyn J. Harris. Archeological Human Remains Scientific Cultural And Ethical Considerations. Current Anthropology April, 1998 Vol.39 (2):253-264.

In their article, Jones and Harris focus on the values and ethical issues surrounding the study of human skeletal remains and dead human bodies in the fields of anthropology and archaeology. In order to explore the issues, they apply an extensive analysis in the determining of the relevant scientific and moral values are in question.

Beginning with a section of background information, Jones and Harris introduce some of the issues that cloud the ideas of “two opposing forces: the Western scientific values of archaeology and a global cultural renaissance among indigenous peoples.” This section also presents the authors ideas relating to the proper treatment of human remains. The next segment discusses the various policy developments and how they recognize and acknowledge the importance of scientific, anthropological and archaeological data along with the importance of all aspects relating to all indigenous cultures, and their cultural heritage.

Following, there is discussion on the scientific interest in relation to indigenous cultures, the effects of each one onto the other, ethics, the various claims made by each group, their different worldviews and the importance of the information the studying of data can provide. The methods used in the assessment of claims are offered in the next section; various claims are discussed, along with, the ethical issues and principles surrounding justice. This portion of the article is divided into even more sub-sections in order to examine the ethics of the types of remains found, the time when the remains are found, the historical origin of the remains found, the past mistreatment of remains and the past moral complicity of scholars.

Jones and Harris conclude their article by providing some ideas for possible guidelines that could be used for the study of human remains, offering scenarios concerning a fictitious group as support for the use of their guidelines.

SHANNON SVISDAHL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Lyman, R. Lee and O’Brien, Michael J. The Goals of Evolutionary Archaeology. Current Anthropology, December 1998. Vol. 39(5): 615-652.

This article is an attempt to deal with criticisms that have been made of evolutionary archaeology by those with preferences for evolutionary ecology, processual archaeology, and behavioral archaeology. Each of these approaches seeks to explain the archaeological record by asking different questions and employing different interpretive principles. The authors address their critics by explaining what evolutionary archaeology is, how criticisms of it are inaccurate and how it can be beneficial to understanding the archaeological record.

Evolutionary archaeology is geared toward providing Darwinian explanations of the archaeological record. Parallels are drawn throughout the article between evolutionary archaeology and paleobiology. Darwinian concepts of lineage, natural selection, transmission mechanisms, innovation, diffusion, and heritability are applied to culture history (where population is artifacts which are viewed as phenotypic features). Evolutionary archaeological analysis includes the study of immanent properties and processes, a set of theoretically constructed units for writing a historical chronicle, and a consideration of historical contingencies and configurations.

The article goes on to address some points of contention among critics including innovation as novelty, intent for introducing variation, replicators as culture traits, transmission as diffusion, causation with natural selection and drift, and natural selection and drift as major mechanisms of change. The importance, in evolutionary archaeology, of using historical as well as comparative analysis in order to distinguish between analogous and homologous similarity is also stressed.

The three prevailing paradigms in archaeology preferred by critics of evolutionary archaeology (i.e. evolutionary ecology, processual archaeology, and behavioral archaeology) are all addressed by highlighting their limitations and explaining how evolutionary archaeology can contribute to them. The charge that evolutionary archaeology uses “radical empiricism” and “artifact physics” are also addressed and countered. Writing and explaining history in evolutionary archaeology are talked about as an evolutionary narrative with the goal of describing as well as giving “how possibly” explanations that can become “how actually” explanations.

The authors conclude by summarizing the differences between evolutionary archaeology and the three paradigms discussed as well as a call to adapt Darwinian evolutionary theory to archaeological problems with the goals of creating evolutionary historical narratives.

Comment on the above article is made by a number of anthropologists with agreement on some points, disagreement on others, and clarifications and expansion of some ideas used in applying evolutionary theory to the archaeological record. Main points of controversy include occurrence of evolution without change in frequencies of heritable units, replication of phenotypes as artifacts, lack of proven models for research, distinction between neutral and adaptive traits, the relationship between evolutionary archaeology and evolutionary ecology, “evolution as history” or “evolution as engineering”, the restriction of evolutionary forces as selection and drift, the application of biological models of evolution to culture, absence of empirical discussion, and selectionist vs. processualist evolution.

Reply by Lyman and O’Brien begins by citing the central focus of the debate on the notion of human behavior. Criticism that evolutionary archaeology ignores human behavior is refuted with discussion of selection occurring after intention and the impossibility of determining the emergence of cultural traits as a result of intention. They maintain that the biological model of evolution is applicable to cultural phenomena, perhaps with some modification.

JESSICA KEENER Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Lyman, R. Lee and Michael J. O’Brien. The Goals of Evolutionary Archaeology: History and Explanation. Current Anthropology December, 1998 Vol.39(5):615-652.

This article examines extensively the roles, various ideologies, uses and theories employed by those who research evolutionary archaeology. It is the author’s contention to propose that not only is evolutionary archaeology important, but viable in other aspects of anthropology, such as processual archaeology, evolutionary ecology, and behavioural archaeology. Lyman and O’Brien examine why evolutionary archaeology is often misunderstood and frequently misquoted by those who do not fully comprehend the far reaching and interconnected nature of evolutionary archaeology. They scrutinize many academics and their ideologies of evolutionary archaeology, and offer their own criticisms and explanations for the work that has been completed thus far. They attempt as well, to establish their own ideologies on the various subjects within this topic.

It is clear on the basis of the work of Lyman and O’Brien that this field has many points to which endless debate could and probably will occur as more people grapple with the enormity of evolutionary archaeology. In addition to their assertions about their own ideologies, they draw from other fields such as biology, history, cultural evolutionism and Darwinism while attempting to discourage irrelevant, inconsequential evidence and ideologies. The article is broken into various sections each dealing with the many subjects of evolutionary archaeology. Some of these include Points of Contention, Evolutionary Ecology, Behavioural Archaeology, Processual Archaeology, Radical Empiricism and Artifact Physics. They conclude by stating that evolutionary archaeology is not yet nearly complete in its ideologies and place in the academic arena, but through further work and the ample criticisms of others, areas of weakness within the discipline will be reinforced and various misconceptions will hopefully be laid to rest.


The comments section is indicative of the many criticisms that evolutionary archaeology receives, as well the authors of this article. The eleven comments provided by some very notable academics are generally split in their opinions of the research. Most of the negative comments are replies to the criticisms of Lyman and O’Brien (of others), with extensive explanations and source citing. Most of these contend that the work in the article is not complete and the various ideologies and theories used do not apply to evolutionary archaeology. Those who agree with Lyman and O’Brien provide supplementary and varying evidence to further bolster their own opinions, and those of Lyman and O’Brien.


In their response, Lyman and O’Brien defend their article and attempt to provide additional evidence that their critique of evolutionary archaeology is of some merit, and valuable to the overall picture structured by others in their field. They respond to each criticism of the article openly and clearly, and offer further critiques of those who sought to critique their work. It is their line of argument that the field of evolutionary archaeology (and this evident in their reply) is an area of academia that is new and open to interpretation.

JOE DESJARDINS Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Marean, Curtis W. and Kim, Soo Yeun. Moustarian Large-Mammal Remains from Kobeh Cave: Behavioral Implications for Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol.39 (supplement):S79-S113.

Marean and Kim argue that despite the seeming prevalence of head-dominated or head-and-foot-dominated large mammal bone assemblages reported at Neanderthal and Early Modern Human occupation sites throughout Eurasia, early hominids were in fact hunting animals for meat, not scavenging from carnivores’ kills as has been suggested by other researchers. Marean and Kim dispute the accuracy of reports of remains from various Middle Stone Age/Middle Paleolithic sites, stating that the excavators often discarded “unidentifiable” long bone mid-shaft fragments, which, even if they were collected, may not have been included in analyses of the faunal remains, as they were often not identifiable to species level. These common exclusion practices have resulted in biased assemblages containing disproportionate amounts of low meat-yielding head and foot bones, and only a few of the more meat-bearing long bones.

Marean and Kim used the technique of refitting long bone fragments together from the faunal assemblage excavated from the Kobeh Cave site in Iraq. Refitting these fragments allowed them to work with larger, identifiable sections of the mid-shafts of the long bones, rather than the previously unidentifiable fragments. By using this technique, Marean and Kim were able to demonstrate that the faunal assemblage from Kobeh Cave was dominated by limb bones. Had they not used this technique, it would appear that the assemblage would be head and foot biased.

The authors use the presence of high meat-yielding skeletal elements, along with the patterns and locations of cut marks and tooth marks on the bones to support the “hominid-first” hypothesis. The hominid-first hypothesis states that hominids hunted large mammals for meat, processed the carcass by removing flesh and marrow, and then discarded the bones, which were later scavenged by carnivores such as hyenas and wolves.

Marean and Kim insist that claims regarding hominids scavenging the kills of carnivores are largely based on biased evidence. They claim that if the sites known for their head-dominated and head-and-foot-dominated bone assemblages had been processed with the long bone refitting technique used at Kobeh Cave, a pattern of long bone dominance would be found, which would support their hominid-first hypothesis. They further state that there is no evidence for scavenging activities in the Middle Paleolithic/Middle Stone Age Eurasia.


Most commentators agree on the significance and usefulness of the arguments and techniques suggested by Marean and Kim, though nearly all express dissatisfaction with the implication that refitting is applicable in all cases, and should be undertaken despite significant time, resource, and preservation issues. Most commentators point out the near impossibility and overall low utility of performing this technique on a large collection. M.C. Stiner disagrees with the validity of Marean and Kim’s results, calling into question the apparent absence of certain elements of the skeleton, and challenging many assumptions that she claims have been made by the authors.


Marean responds by reiterating some of the points in his article that he feels were taken wrongly by commentators. He concedes that refitting long bone fragments is not the only acceptable method, but suggests using computer technology to aid in refitting long bones in large samples. Marean responds to M.C. Stiner’s accusations by justifying what she referred to as assumptions to be supportable conclusions, and by calling into question the validity of the data which Stiner uses to refute his theories, and upon which she has formed her own hypotheses.

SUSAN DIEPEN Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Marean, Curtis and Soo Yuen Kim Mousterian Large-Mammal Remains from Kobeh Cave: Behavioral Implications for Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol.39(3):79-113.

This article examines Middle Paleolithic (Middle Stone Age) Neanderthal hominids and how their subsistence patterns evolved over time based on improved technology, behavior implications and environmental changes. The authors also examine the Middle Stone Age hominids and their decreased hunting techniques compared to the Later Stone Age hunters. The primary argument proposed is whether or not hominids were the scavengers of animal remains, or whether they were the primary suppliers of hunting remains for surrounding carnivorous species. The article provides examples and archaeological evidence in defense for both cases.

In terms of scavenging, the writers consider the high occurrence of head and foot skeletal remains. The cranium and mandible are the most abundant remains, with foot long bones frequently appearing in the next highest percentage. This theory is evidence in support of scavenging because it shows that hominids only had access to the reduced nutrient rich materials left behind for them to scavenge. In other words, these bones have the least amount of meat on them, which makes them less desirable to other animals, but are still useful to hominids for the bone marrow nutrients. The data for this research were recovered at the following sites: Combe Grenal, Grotte Vaufrey, Grotta Guattari, Grotta dei Moscerini, and Klasies River Mouth. (80).

The other side of the debate argues that hominids at the Kobeh Cave site hunted wild goats and sheep. They took the essential nutritional parts of the skeleton and left other bones for carnivorous animals. The article states that in examination of skeletal remains, cut marks and carnivore tooth marks overlapped. This occurrence is evidence that both hominids and animals had access to hunted remains, however it leaves unclear who had access first. Upon further investigation scientists discovered that bone grease develops on the ends of aged bones and is desirable to scavenging carnivores for up to one year. This occurrence was evidence for the hominid-first and carnivore-second theory. The evidence for the research was compared with archaeological excavations at Kobeh, Warwasi and Bisitun sites. The evidence for hominid scavengers and hominid hunter theories is likewise presented and organized in tables and graphs throughout the article.


The comments relatively similar. Most agree with the hypothesis of hominid hunting practices and occasional scavenging opportunities. The general consensus is that the article is a major contribution to zooarchaeological analysis. The greatest concern is the techniques the archaeologists used in analyzing the remains. The reviewers felt that the method of re-fitting bones together is an unrealistic method for analyzing and gathering data. Generally analysis cannot be done to this extent because it is time consuming, expensive and only supplies minimal accuracy. Some writers input their own solutions to this problem, as well as to other outstanding inconsistencies they found in the articles theories.


Only Marean replied to the comments. He noted that all the responses were positive in accordance with the proposed theories, except for Stiner who plainly disagreed. Most of his reply was dedicated to Stiner’s commentary however Marean confronts each criticism with more of his own evidence and support. He accepted each response as positive feedback for his further studies in hominid subsistence behavior.

SALINA WIGHT Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Michael Rosenberg. Cheating at Musical Chairs. Current Anthropology, December 1998 V. 39 (5): 653-677

The phenomenon of sedentary life is undoubtedly important to current human life. An exact cause may never actually be discovered, however, a number of theories have been presented. Michael Rosenberg presents his own theory to explain why mobile peoples would become sedentary in his article “Cheating at Musical Chairs”.

Rosenberg begins by explaining the cost/benefit relationship of sedentary lifeways to mobile lifeways. Anthropologists commonly accept that sedentary life is more costly to people than mobile life. Resource depletion due to the reduced range of the people, heavy energy needed to harvest crops, and increased risks to security are all problems of sedentary life. However, sedentary life had to have some advantages to make peoples of the past give up their mobile lifestyle.

Some anthropologists have suggested that sociopolitical forces were the cause of sedentary lifeways. Humans have shown a tendency to have self-serving agendas and a desire to manipulate others. These desires are more easily attained in a sedentary environment. However, Rosenberg points out that because in most situations people feeling oppressed can simply move away, certain demographic constraints must also be present for sociopolitical forces to be the complete cause of sedentary life. Instead, he suggests that sociopolitical forces are tied to a more prominent cause for the change in lifeways.

Adaptation models for sedentary lifeways are placed into two categories by Rosenberg: those that are resource-centered and those based on population-pressure. Resource-centered models are those that tie the abundance of resources needed for survival being found in one area and therefore allowing sedentary life. However, the fault Rosenberg disagrees with this argument on the basis that these resources did not suddenly become available but had been available before sedentary life. Rosenberg calls these theories “pull” models. He then points out that exploitation of these resources has not always resulted in sedentary life.

Rosenberg presents the argument that population-pressure is true reason for sedentary life. He rejects the idea that human populations can consciously control their own populations. While he does admit that humans tend to regulate population levels; he points out that they do not tend to be successful. In this same way, Rosenberg rejects the idea that if a such regulation was instituted it is was done to maintain the eco-demographic homeostasis. He does not believe that the benefits of population control were as apparent to peoples of hunter-gather societies as they are to people today.

Population growth is also an issue to Rosenberg. In addressing the issue of population growth, he points out that population growth is not associated with population pressure. Instead, he states that population pressure is caused by the possibility of an unfavorable ratio of humans to resources available and the latent possibility for population growth. In this way, population pressure constantly exists and a simple fluctuation in the resources available can cause population pressure.

Rosenberg’s theory revolves around territoriality. When a group of people are mobile their territory is quite vast, however this territory is shared with other groups of people. A group is unable to secure a location with the most abundant resources when mobile and sharing territory. Defending such a vast territory and keeping other groups out is very difficult. As more groups enter the vast territory, competition becomes increasingly rigid. This in turn creates population pressure by allocating fewer resources to a larger number of people. By becoming sedentary a group of people are securing the resources within the smaller area they inhabit. Protecting this smaller area is much easier, as well.

The analogy to musical chairs is used here by Rosenberg. When faced with growing population pressure, it becomes more risky to be mobile. As in a game of musical chairs, when the music starts those that give up their chair increase their risks of not getting a chair when the music stops. Therefore, by remaining in a chair or becoming sedentary the risk diminishes. In this way, Michael Rosenberg says the becoming sedentary is like cheating at musical chairs.

Rosenberg received nine comments on his article. In the majority of the responses, the commentor presents the argument that population pressure alone is not a plausible cause of sedentary lifeways. By pointing out certain characteristics that Rosenberg failed to address, the responses show once again that no one cause can explain the phenomenon of sedentary life. In his final response, Rosenberg answers that the commenters misunderstood his intentions. He asserts that he does not dismiss other theories, but rather wishes to demonstrate that population pressure probably had a strong influence on lifeways.

KATIE LATHAM Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Rosenberg, Michael. Cheating at Musical Chairs: Territoriality and Sedentism in an Evolutionary Context. Current Anthropology December, 1998 Vol.39(5):653-680.

Rosenberg argues that recent explanations for the emergence of sedentism are inadequate. He explains that socio-political models, which explain the rise of sedentism, raise as many questions as they answer, because these models ignore the increased costs and risks of sedentism in comparison to mobile life ways. Adaption models, which blame external conditions such as the environment for the decline of hunters and gatherers, misunderstand the process of evolution, by suggesting that sedentary life ways are more adaptive than mobile ones. Following his critique of the other theories used to explain the rise of sedentism, Rosenberg posits the theory that population pressure is the source of sedentism. He then challenges, by presenting counterevidence, common criticisms of the population pressure theory: that mobile societies regulate their population growth and that there is insufficient data in the archaeological record to support this theory.

The argument for the population pressure theory begins by distinguishing between population pressure and population growth: that population pressure is the potential for growth that is somehow frustrated by a condition. Following the definition, he outlines four major points in his article regarding the cause of sedentism: first, that sedentism is the result of competition for resources (population pressure). This resource stress creates rigid territorial systems. Secondly, sedentism will occur where resources are available and where the cost of exploitation is less than territorial defense, by the advantage of inhabiting the defending territory. Thirdly, that technological and behavioural innovation, such as a decrease in group movement and/or procedures to obtain resources (hunting rather than scavenging) develops for the exploitation of resources in response to population pressure. Lastly, population-resource imbalance, due to population growth, creates the need for exploitation. Support for this point is drawn from archaeological data during the Pleistocene period in southwestern Asia and northern Europe. Rosenberg concludes his article by explaining that the relationships he presents are a casual framework proposed to direct the evolution of increased exploitation.


While most commentators agree with Rosenberg’s general idea that population pressure is a cause of sedentism, they all explain that his theory not only lacks the quantitative data, but he also fails to acknowledge several other factors that have been proven to help create sedentism. One commentator goes as far as to label Rosenberg’s approach as “armchair archaeology”, which as a result, causes Rosenberg to oversimplify the complexity of the issue of sedentism. However, all commentators applaud the author’s attempt to argue for the theory of population pressure, but explain the theory needs to be revised with further analysis before it can be completely accepted.


Rosenberg replies to the commentators, arguing that many misinterpreted his proposal. He reiterates that his theory of population pressure is simply a framework model and that no single framework is able to completely explain any phenomenon, but that does not mean it is entirely invalid. He explains the argument proposed by most commentators that either population pressure or historical events caused sedentism is simply a false dichotomy, because evolution, whether cultural or biological, is a historical event. Rosenberg addresses each of the commentators directly, clarifying his points, while defending his underlying argument: that population pressure is a major cause of sedentism, but not necessarily the ultimate one.

KIM TOWNSLEY Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Shea, John, J. Neanderthal and Early Modern Human Behavioral Variability: A Regional-scale Approach to Lithic Evidence for Hunting in the Levantine Mousterian. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol. 39(Supplement): S45-S73.

The overall concern in this paper is what caused two different human populations to use the same technology in tool making over a very long extension of time. Shea sets out to distinguish the ecological differences, and the differences in lithic technologies in order to distinguish between the Neanderthals or modern humans who occupied that area. The Levant area is divided up into three different ecozones: the Mediterranean Woodland, the Irano-Tueranian Steppe and the Sahara-Arabian Dessert. The Levantine Mousterian technology was found both in the Woodlands and in the Steppe.

The lithic technology was discussed in the context of hunting strategies and the Levallois point and core tool ratio, (LP/CR) in conjunction with each other. Essentially there are two different types of hunting techniques that were used, encounter and intercept techniques. Both of these are advantageous in different ecological zones. The encounter technique, used by modern humans, was used in the woodland because of predictable migration routes. Due to encounter techniques, maintainability of the tool was essential, so the use of wooden spears would have been used in the hunt. The wooden spears could also double as digging sticks. As for intercept hunting techniques, which were used by Neanderthals, the need for tools to be more effective was essential. Thus the use of stone tipped spears would have been advantageous in their hunting technique. This links Neanderthals with far more hunting than modern humans.

The stone tools that were found with the remains in the Tuban Cave were then correlated with the hunting techniques used. The LP/CR ratios were then calculated showing the vast increase of the ratio between Neanderthals and modern humans. These variables present in the study show that both Neanderthals and modern humans were able to vary their behavior to changes in environment circumstances; there was a greater degree of variance for modern humans. This may suggest why modern humans were better able to adapt and thus survive the test of time.


There were a few commentators that believed that Shea’s work was not complete or that his work was over generalized, but the majority found his theory very appealing in associating human behavior with hunting techniques. It avoids past models that use cognitive processes that are unpredictable. Although there was a general consensus that Shea did not look at other factors that could have lead to production of stone tools, or how the tools were used. As well, most of the commentators believed that the LP/CR method in determining behavior was either too generalized, poorly explained, or there can be no inferences drawn from these data. Lastly, it was noted that some of the figures in Tables two and three were calculated incorrectly.


In Shea’s reply, he argues his method of using hunting techniques linked to stone tool production is reliable in determining behavioral contrasts between modern humans and Neanderthals. He suggests that stone tipped weapons take more time to construct thus explaining his theory of different hunting techniques. He then argues against Churchill’s LP/CR ratios and stone wear. He suggests that not all stones would invariably show wear, and if so this would lead to the conclusion that humans were aware of their stone tool capabilities. Shea later argues his use of cores as a denominator for the LP/CR ratio as it may lead to functions other than hunting. In Shea’s rebuttal, this would be the case for any category of stone tools as a denominator. He states that if cores are problematic as a denominator there are two other indicators to give validity to his work. He then adds that it is difficult to make accurate assumptions due to the incomplete publication of several Levantine sites.

KEVIN LOOK Okanagan University College (Diana E. French).

Sillitoe, Paul. The Development of Indigenous Knowledge. Current Anthropology April, 1998 Vol.39(2):223-252

In this article, author Paul Sillitoe calls for anthropologists to embrace a grassroots movement that encourages the inclusion of indigenous knowledge as a vital element of research in less-developed countries. It is important to understand that others have their own legitimate management techniques and forms of science. Thus, rather than imposing technological solutions to problems and expecting that indigenous populations will embrace Western scientific knowledge, Sillitoe believes that the incorporation of local practices will improve development efforts. Anthropologists can play a critical role in the fostering of this new understanding.

The introduction of local knowledge into development efforts will help create initiatives that are more relevant to the population in question, and will help empower indigenous peoples. On the other hand, ignoring local needs and opinions may lead to a perception of disrespect and exploitation. Anthropologists can help bridge the gap between Western science and indigenous knowledge, ensuring that development is a joint effort to provide culturally appropriate solutions.

Sillitoe emphasizes that the careful consideration of local knowledge not only verifies its cultural validity, it may in fact prove its scientific validity. Indigenous knowledge is a vital source of intelligence. However, the author expresses concern that the Western sciences’ manifest lack of respect for the knowledge of others may prevent its inclusion. This, he argues, is unfortunate because quite often local ways of managing resources are more appropriate and sustainable, based upon years of accumulated cultural knowledge.

A final point addresses issues of relativism. There is a fine line between helping others find solutions to their problems and interfering in their social and political arrangements. Anthropologists, with their focus on relativism, need to be aware of this line, but also need to understand that with the shift in focus toward helping people, intervention is unavoidable. It is imperative that this intervention does not harm the group in question. The author discusses a fictitious but realistic scenario in which wealthier and more powerful members of the society may feel threatened by the assistance being given to others and may try to obstruct development.

Sillitoe offers a persuasive argument for the inclusion of indigenous knowledge into development efforts. With globalization comes the obligation to provide assistance to those in need. However, assistance should be a mutual effort. Rather than disregarding the valuable knowledge of those not raised under the auspices of the Western scientific method, we need to recognize that every group has valuable knowledge to contribute.


For the most part, responses to this article were positive, raising only minor quibbles. However, Carmen Ferradás raises several interesting criticisms. First, she argues that most specialists’ interest in indigenous knowledge does not grow out of admiration, but is often financially motivated. Furthermore, Ferradás emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the poor actually benefit from these efforts since, as Sillitoe acknowledges, the introduction of technological innovations is political. Finally, and most significantly, Ferradás argues that we need to consider the implications of continuing to divide the world into categories of “us” and “them”. Ferradás suggests that Sillitoe’s division between the West and indigenous populations implies an attitude of Western superiority and arrogance.


Sillitoe responds to Ferradás’ criticism by agreeing that it is an exaggeration to discuss Western scientific knowledge as compared to indigenous knowledge as though they were mutually exclusive, stating that people in both communities may possess both kinds of knowledge. However, he does not agree that it is necessary to completely dispose of the “us”-“them” dichotomy. Rather, he states that different cultures continue to instill different understandings of the world in spite of globalization and that the “us”-“them” division is to some degree inescapable. In fact, he argues that denying this basic truth is an act in “postmodern imagination”. He states that his point was that the West is technologically more advanced and thus has something to offer “them”, emphatically dismissing any suggestion that dividing the West from indigenous populations is in any way a claim of moral or cultural superiority.

GLENN L. PLANCK Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Stanford, Craig B. The Social Behavior of Chimpanzees and Bonobos: Empirical Evidence and Shifting Assumptions. Current Anthropology August 1998 Vol. 39(4):399-420.

Stanford sets out to prove in this article that differences in the social behaviors of common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos, or pygmy chimpanzees, (Pan paniscus) have been overstated and sensationalized by researchers. Stanford claims that instead of recognizing the similarities between humankind’s two closest living relatives, researchers have emphasized the differences between the behaviors of the two species. He blames this practice largely on the perceived dichotomy between human male-female character traits. Chimpanzees are often characterized as male-centered, aggressive, and violent, whereas bonobos are usually viewed as female-centered, sexually expressive, and peaceful. If these vast character differences are in fact true, it would have huge implications for scientific theories about early hominids.

Stanford uses data from field studies of chimpanzees and bonobos to compare social behavior by looking at group composition, foraging party size and composition, inter-group aggression, reproductive ecology, and several other variables. Data from chimpanzee and bonobo studies line up very well in support of the conclusion that these two species behave in much the same way. Stanford further suggests that some observational data may have been misinterpreted in the past, and must be re-evaluated.

Stanford concludes that, while there are certainly some differences between the two species, they are overstated by researchers’ own unconscious biases, the conditions (ie captivity and artificial provisioning in the wild) under which studies of bonobos have been conducted, and by the absence of long term data on wild bonobos. Stanford insists that the evidence supports a narrower behavioral gap between the two primates, and conventional views must be altered.


Most commentators support Stanford’s efforts to bring greater understanding to the similarities between chimpanzees and bonobos, but nearly all commentators warn against his use of sweeping generalizations and over-simplification of complex primate behaviors. A few commentators offered further avenues for information that would support Stanford’s hypothesis, however, de Waal and Parish in particular feel that Stanford did not mention, or glossed over several significant aspects of bonobo behavior. Of most concern was the apparent absence of treatment of unusual sexual behaviors among bonobos that have never been observed in chimpanzees. Though Stanford addresses rates of copulation, de Waal and Parish believe that not enough emphasis was given to what they feel are significant differences in the sexual behaviors between chimpanzees and bonobos. Parish is also concerned about Stanford’s assertion that female dominance is not true dominance, but rather “allowed” by males in bonobo society. She feels that this is an unparsimonious explanation that is not supported by evidence. de Waal expresses concern about Stanford’s invalidation of captive research, stating that Stanford’s allegation that sexual behaviors of captive bonobos are a result of their confinement are unfounded. All commentators agree on the necessity of further field research on wild bonobo populations.


Stanford reiterates that he was attempting to show how chimpanzees and bonobos are similar, not that they are “behaviorally indistinguishable.” He admits that this article originally started from “a fit of devil’s advocacy”, but welcomes the comments concerning further support of his assertions. Stanford reacts to de Waal’s and Parish’s criticisms defensively, pointing out that these two scientists have worked primarily with captive animals and refuse to take into account field data. He concedes that de Waal may have a point considering sexuality among captive bonobos in comparison to captive chimpanzees, who do not show the same sexual behaviors exhibited in bonobo populations, though he cautions that captivity affects different animals in different ways, and no conclusions can be drawn about wild animals from captive data. Stanford concludes by stating that field research is very much needed for wild populations, and future information will help us come to a better understanding of both bonobos and chimpanzees.

SUSAN DIEPEN Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Tishkov, Valery A. U.S. and Russian Anthropology: Unequal Dialogue in a Time of Transition. Current Anthropology February, 1998 39(1):1-18.

In the article U.S. and Russian Anthropology: Unequal Dialogue in a Time of Transition, Tishkov writes on the problems concerning anthropology in the west (specifically the United States), and Russia in since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. He examines the very different perspectives of American and Russian anthropology, and notes that they are very different disciplines. He argues that neither has an understanding of the other’s discipline, and that tensions are still very high due to the influence of the Cold War era. Tishkov feels that Americans have the money and research to study the Russian provinces seeking independence from Russia; however, he feels that this area of study should be the work of Russian anthropologists, not American.

A second argument Tishkov proposes is the lack of American knowledge of Russia before and after the fall of Communism. He claims that Americans have no sense of knowledge regarding “Sovietology”. While the Russian anthropologists have a healthy background in Russian anthropology, Americans tend to be at a disadvantage. Communism prevented much if any information regarding their country, out into the international community. Only recently has the west been able to begin analyzing information form the Russian past. The author persists in elaborating on several differences between the uses in anthropology within the two countries. It is obvious that Mr. Tishkov tends to sway more towards a socialist attitude and tends to speak more so from the Russian perspective, rather than supply any arguments in defense of American anthropology. The article seems to be a bombardment of errors upon the west, especially the United States.


There are a series of mixed emotions generated by critics in response to the article. The comments range from Arutiunov who feels that the overall content is quite reasonable, while others such as Peter Skalnik, feel quite the opposite. An argument which emerges in Arutiunov’s article is a simple debate which has been debated over in many history classes. It is obvious that Arutiunov feels that the Cold War is officially over. Although the Cold War is over in the sense that the Communist threat is non-existent as well as the arms race, the notion of threat is still very present. These disagreements can be seen through the Russian decisions behind the Kursk incident and American involvement, as well as over strong disagreements during heated issues such as the present threats upon Iraq.


Tishkov’s reply seems to address many of the questions or comments brought up in the response section of this article. One aspect which is agreed with by many anthropologists is Tishkov’s use of “Nationalities”, when defining the areas of the former Soviet Union which are not sovereign nations yet, such as Chechnya.

Tishkov, however, defends his arguments in a hostile tone. He tends to be quite reluctant to accept any criticism from his peers, which were proposed in the comment section of this article.

KEITH WILSON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Van Peer, Philip. The Nile Corridor and the Out-of-Africa Model: An Examination of the Archaeological Record. Current Anthropology June, 1998 Vol. 39 (2): 115-140

Summary: The overall problem addressed in Van Peer’s article is that the archaeological data from the Middle Palaeolithic of the Lower Nile Valley and nearby regions is not relevant to human origins and behavior. Van Peer claims that archaeological data leaves “significant gaps in the Saharan database”(p. 130) and is “too sparse” (p. 115), not letting us have any concept of cultural complexity or of “local technological transition,” (p. 130). Van Peer sets out to debunk the assumption “that all archaeological remains are the product of human groups with sociocultural structures comparable to the present world,” (p. 115). Since archaeology has now come along way since that assumption, the author wants to look at the Nile Corridor and the “Out-of-Africa” model from a prehistoric perspective. Yet, he states that, “it will remain difficult to characterize human species [e.g. human behavior] by their archaeological remains,” (p. 130-131). Overall, Van Peer wants to improve the quality of descriptive procedures by expanding the present database “with good well-dated contexts,” (p. 117). Another argument Van Peer sets out to prove in his article is that two archaeological complexes—the Nubian Complex and the Lower Nile Valley Complex of Northeast Africa—are both “the reflection of different behavioral adaptations,” (p. 120). Van Peer asserts that the appearance of the Nubian complex in the Nile Valley could imply the strategic use of hunting subsistence and the arrival of new material culture from the south, therefore having the potential to adapt to changing climatic conditions with such technological advances.

Van Peer offers evidence for his arguments by summarizing recently published information and presenting the results of his own “lithic analyses of Middle Palaeolithic assemblages,” (p. 117). Van Peer presents two complexes of Middle Palaeolithic Northeast Africa from a technological point-of-view: 1.) The Nubian Complex, is characterized by the Nubian Levallois and classical Levallois methods of point and flake production—the author calls this complex the “N group”—and 2.) The Lower Nile Valley Complex, only the classical Levallois method is confirmed, “and point-production methods are unknown,”—labeled the “K group,” (p. 120). The author’s evidence supports his main points because his two complexes/assemblages “show complexity in their material culture and cultural change,” (p. 128). The Nubian Complex shows that new populations had been present in Northeast Africa since the late Middle Pleistocene. On the other hand, the early industries of the Lower Nile Valley Complex were in sequence with the Acheulean (around 1.5 million years B.C.), thus technological change (e.g. “the Levallois reduction strategy”) was evident due to the complex’s late manifestations (p. 130).

The organization of Van Peer’s data is a bit confusing because the introduction of his article was more like an analysis and we don’t know what his arguments or goals are until later. However, the author includes very useful illustrations (maps, visuals of tools from both complexes) and charts to display the data from his analysis. Van Peer’s knowledge of the studies of the Nile Corridor and the Out-of-Africa model is demonstrated in this article, thus giving his audience a good impression of his perspectives.

Summary of the comments: Most of Van Peer’s commentators were in agreement that his discussion was a very informative and “up-to-date” survey of the archaeology of the Northeast African Nile Valley (Rolland, Ronen, 133, 134). However, Romuald Schild questioned Van Peer’s remarks that the presence of bifacial foliates are good taxonomic markers, since these are “extremely rare in the Middle Palaeolithic assemblages” of the Nile Valley and surrounding deserts (Schild, 135). Another critic of the article was Marcel Otte, who thought Van Peer’s debates were “outmoded.” Otte also interrogated his support for the Out-of-Africa model, whereas modern moved from Africa to Europe and Asia (Otte, 132).

Summary of the author’s reply: Van Peer focuses on his two complexes of Northeast Africa during the Middle Palaeolithic since Schild questioned them. Van Peer explains that after some further analysis, this “twofold classification” could reveal some behavioral significance (p. 136). He also cautions Rolland when deeming the Nubian and the Lower Nile Valley complexes as coexistent, since “there are… no sites where levels of the two complexes are interstratified,” (p. 136). Van Peer explains that the two sites are only contemporaneous during the early Late Pleistocene along the river. The author responds to Otte’s criticisms by saying that he misses to crucial points: 1.) That a “predefined question must be framed” within an understood procedure of knowledge and data and 2.) The interpretation of obtained meaning in terms of the posed problem.

ANDREA L. BERNARD Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)

Wilson, David S. Hunting, Sharing, and Multilevel Selection: The Tolerated- Theft Model Revisited. Current Anthropology February, 1998 Vol. 39(1):73-86.

Wilson’s article concerns group selection theories, focusing specifically on the tolerated-theft model. The article suggests that the reasons behind hunting and sharing that hunt in a group society may or may nor be individually motivated. Motivation behind the hunt and why individuals’ hunts are purely limited to decisions made within the group. The concern is presented by approaching the confusion between process and perspective. Wilson offers his hypothesis and supports it by using sources from various other anthropologists. He also offers support by explaining other models, including one written by Sewall Wright and the tolerated-theft model in general.

Sewall Wrights model of group selection states that “natural selection is based on relative fitness, thus, adaptation at the individual level does not necessarily lead to adaptive groups.” His example describes the disadvantage of altruism within groups. Wilson points out that his theory is one sided and warns his audience to keep that point noted.

The tolerated-theft model basically suggests that group members that hunt must share that hunt because it is more costly for those group members not to share. This model offers two explanations as to why this is so. First, group members are more willing to fight for that food then the hunters are willing to defend it. Second, if hunters are forced to share in the first place, why should anyone hunt? This logic works in favour of motivation and individual status.

The article itself presents the argument with supporting graphs and charts. This information is often confusing in presentation and Wilson adds to it by presenting complex formula to explain the model. This does not allow for easy understanding. Also, Wilson’s theory does not take into account the individual in its own perspective, which critics admit would help round off his argument.

BERNICE SAMPSON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French).

Wood, James. Theory of Preindustrial Population Dynamics. Current Anthropology February, 1998 Vol. 39(1):99-135.

James Wood has made an important contribution to the field of population dynamics theory with his synthesis of Malthus and Boserup, which he refers to as the “MaB ratchet” (Wood, 1998). This synthesis allows for a model of population growth reaching saturation (which is what Malthus predicted would happen) and utilizing new production technologies and practices to allow for further population growth (as Boserup details in her writings). With this model Wood suggests that we can more fully comprehend and analyze pre-industrial population dynamics. He utilizes the term “well-being” as a reference to the health and physical conditions of individuals in terms of the birth-rate and the risk of death. Under Woods’ model, well-being declines as the per-capita food supply shrinks, which leads to an increase in the utilization of new methods of production and technology. But, as Cowgill points out in the commentary, Wood fails to bring political economy into this model. Wood admits to this deficiency in the article and explains in his response that in future postulations of this theory he will include political economy.

The five main questions Wood tries to answer and expand upon in this essay are noteworthy:

1. Is the growth of pre-industrial populations regulated in any meaningful sense of the word?

2. Is there an optimal population size, and do pre-industrial populations tend to equilibrate at the optimum?

3. What is the relationship between population growth and economic change?

4. What are the implications of population growth and economic change for individual health and well-being?

5. What is the role of crisis mortality in pre-industrial population dynamics?

His arguments, formulations and premises incorporate some heavy mathematical language that readers may find daunting. Regardless, Wood does an excellent job of explaining the implications of these equations in more down-to-earth language. Furthermore, he utilizes the last couple of pages of his article to recapitulate the questions and the answers his analysis makes possible.

Overall, the commentators (with the exception of Cowgill) received the article with an accepting and thankful manner. Many of them thanked him for his pursuit of a unifying theory of pre-industrial population dynamics and for the clarification of an old debate between Malthus and Boserup. Overall the article was easy to read except for the in-depth mathematical aspects, but this must be expected when dealing with population dynamics and demography.

JON KIMMEL Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)