Current Anthropology 2000
Bartoy, Kevin M. And Laurie A. Wilkie. A Critical Archaeology Revisited. Current Anthropology December, 2000 Vol.41(5):747-777.
Kevin M. Bartoy and Laurie A. Wilkie propose that the tenets of critical theory as they have come to be applied for the formulation of modern archaeological theory are too narrow in their scope. As a result of this they do not allow us to effectively understand the nature of individual agency as it exists in a given social system. The authors fear that critical archaeology based upon the framework of structural Marxism does not allow for a suitable understanding to be gained concerning the relationship of individual agents and their environment. They also believe that this framework does not allow for us to gain any truly complete understanding of how individual agents act to influence the social systems in which they exist.
The authors seek to define the useful boundaries of structural Marxism by identifying the framework through which it classifies the individual in a social system, as that of a pawn manipulated by forces principally immune to control. This limitation in structural Marxist theory does not allow for the emergence of individual agency in any comprehensible form. It is by understanding the nature of this shortcoming that newer frameworks can be established, these drawing upon a hybridization of both the existing structuralist theories as well as the newer and more radical approaches which are gaining popularity as modern theory advances.
One of the methods by which they believe critical archaeology can be sculpted back into a useful form is through the incorporation of the work of Pierre Bourdieu, specifically in his conception of the habitus. Here agents, objects, and their meanings as both consciously and unconsciously proposed can be better understood to exist as a result of the networks of daily activities within which participants engage. This concept is also limited in its inability to fully account for the forms that individual agency may take, but the authors believe that this can be overcome. They propose that a synthesis of these concepts along with those established by Sherry Ortner and Anthony Giddens concerning the nature of artefact analysis as representative of assemblages of individual meanings will serve to achieve this goal.
The focus of this article is primarily aimed at providing a description of what the authors believe the main flaws inherent within the theories behind critical archaeology are and how they may best be resolved. The authors feel that such a resolution will best be attained through the inclusion of more radical and reflexive principles in this body of archaeological theory. In this way researchers will be able to attain a much greater understanding of the complex relationships which exists between individual participants and the social environment that they both shape and are themselves directly shaped as a result of.
MIKE D. LOGAN Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Burmeister, Stefan. Archaeology and Migration: Approaches to an Archaeological Proof of Migration. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(4):593-568.
To date, within archaeology migration has not been largely considered. Most artifacts are looked at for their cultural context but not how they became part of any particular culture. If the question has been raised, the answers are usually trade or diffusion. Burmeister answers the question with the theory of migrations. The problem he addresses is how we can distinguish the method by which a piece of cultural material came to be used; how we distinguish artifacts introduced through trade, diffusion, technological advances, or migration.
Burmeister wishes to build a model that archaeologists could use to distinguish certain patterns in the artifact record that may indicate migration over other forms of material acquisition by an indigenous group. Why did certain material goods change within a particular area when it does not seem that the population moved out completely? Why are certain features in an area in keeping with a people who came into the area from elsewhere? Burmeister uses examples of house types in North America during colonialism as one example, and the Anglo-Saxon immigrations into Britain as another.
Burmeister uses the terms public (external) and private (internal) to show that immigrant populations seemingly adapted quickly to and changed their style of house building to fit with that of the locals. In the public domain, the outside of the home, the immigrants built houses that looked like the other houses around them. But in the private domain, they retained traditional styles and decoration from their homelands. This seems reasonable enough.
Burmeister supports many of his ideas with examples of reasons for migrations: why people would choose to migrate; why they would do so in large groups or small groups; and whether migrations are due to warfare, population pressure, economic gain, or age specific factors (such one group seeking to conquer another) in any way.
In his reply, Burmeister feels that many of the commentators misread or misunderstood his meaning in trying to build a basic model for locating migration patterns within archaeological evidence. He believes there needs to be a shift in the thinking of archaeologists and that the idea of migration must become a central part of analysis when trying to explain the reasons for changes in the artifact record.
On the subject of the interior vs. the exterior domains, it seems that he is misunderstood again. He responds by saying that they are not only actual places but also a concept of social domains. The idea of private and public areas is not just within housing styles but every aspect of culture. But as for the houses themselves, the idea of exterior and interior is very important in that it has such “specific potential for change.”
Lastly, he is accused of having an “all or nothing” attitude in regards to his construction and application of the migration model. But of course, as he comments, there is no way that a basic model could be composed without regard to the variations in culture areas and the types of migrations that could take place in any given area. This model is what he calls a “standardized research pattern”. “Standardized results are not to be expected,” but he asserts that we can develop new approaches to doing archaeology, and can test the practicality of such models; the theory is still growing and only in the experimental stage.
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KRISTIN FARREY University of Idaho (Laura Putche)
Burmeister, Stefan. Archeology and Migration: Approaches to an Archaeological Proof of Migration. Current Anthropologist August – October, 2000 Vol.41(4):539-567.
This article is written as an overview of the possible “proof” of the idea of human migration versus diffusion. Burmeister evaluates how migration is portrayed in archaeological literature and examines the differences in research regarding migration in disciplines other than anthropology. He views the idea of migration as being part of cultural behavior and calls for more research to establish this as a truth rather than a theory.
Material culture and its societal representations are also brought into the discussion but are also disregarded as unsubstantiated evidence towards migration. Material culture is considered the source for any proof that has been or will be found for the migration theory. Constructing a model for the possibility of migration, Burmeister looks at the selective nature of traits to be migrated, the motives for migration, the direction and path migration takes, as well as the impact of migration, and the fact that both the immigration and emigration areas are effected by this said migration. Using the Anglo-Saxons as an example, Burmiester attempts to give credence to his argument that the proof of migration will come from the material culture. Concluding his article, Burmiester clearly states that the theory of migration as a part of cultural behavior and the development of a method of obtaining archaeological proof are the only way to actually prove the existence of migration. He claims that current research and theories are inadequate, and without further research concrete conclusions regarding migration versus diffusion cannot be made.
The range of comments, mainly in support of Burmeister’s model offer constructive criticism but do not outright object to his theories on migration. The main objection is the idea migration may be represented by material culture. With the interpretation of material culture being open, it would be hard to discern immediate connections of migration with other groups.
Burmiester replies by addressing the apparent thought of his article as prompting a shift in thinking, claiming that migration is a current subject of discussion that is in high regard as a theory for explaining culture change. He agrees that no general definition of migration exists, but argues that one cannot be created without further proof of its existence, and the process through which it works. Burmiester concludes by agreeing with his commentators that his models had little success once implemented, but argues that it is because of the interpretation of historical records as well as archaeological data that no one model can account for all proposed theories of migration.
KARA OTKE Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Cote, James E. Was Coming of Age in Samoa Based on a “Fateful Hoaxing”? Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(4):617-622.
The article by James E. Cote is a critical analysis of Derek Freeman’s critique regarding the work of Margaret Mead during her research in Samoa and the consequences of the production of her book. Mead’s relationship with her supervisor Franz Boas is under significant scrutiny. The issue Cote is dealing with concerns whether or not Mead could validly support her findings in a reliable manner. The resolution of this debate is essential due to the profound impact Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa (1973) had on anthropological thought. Freeman argues that, under direction from Boas, Mead was led to simply aid in the support of the theory that culture influences human behavior in her publication. Cote, conversely, concludes that Mead’s position is justifiable on all accounts.
Freeman observes that the alleged hoaxing by two Samoan females on Mead produced inaccurate implications in her work. Cote argues strongly on the contrary in his article, and attempts to disprove allegations made by Freeman. Cote deems that the six months Mead spent in the field provided ample opportunity for her to carefully address her research problem and reach legitimate conclusions. Freeman is revealed to be too confined in thought that the supposed hoaxing was the main and only grounds for Coming of Age in Samoa.
Cote arranges his argument utilizing a point by point method. After providing a little background information on the Mead-Freeman debate, he lists Freeman’s five accusations against Mead. Cote then furnishes subsequent evidence to refute each of the five claims. In this way, his points are clearly defined for the reader for contrasting them with Freeman’s views. The reader is also led to believe that Cote’s opinions are superior and better researched due to the combative, condescending vocabulary he uses towards Freeman.
The main evidence used in the text includes quotes from letters sent between Mead and Boas in regards to her research. However, none of the letters are provided in full context. Other evidence points to the exaggeration and distortion on Freeman’s behalf towards Boas and Mead to further his allegations. According to Cote, Mead was not under any deterring time constraints or fixation to singularly please Boas. She tried to understand the culture in order to apply that knowledge to her own research problem. Mead was not naïve to the multitude of other work done in the same area and was competent enough to realize a hoax if one was in progress.
Derek Freeman published a reply to Cote’s article. In it he explains how Mead pleased Boas by emphasizing cultural environment over genetics as a determinant of behavior. Freeman does not make light of the impression that stand has taken in the field of Anthropology. To reiterate his opinions of Mead’s research, he provides more detail of the account of her time spent in Samoa. According to Freeman, Mead could not have possibly spent as much time doing research on her problem as Cote has concluded. He also quotes her saying that the interview, regarded as being a hoax, was what she used to answer her research questions. In summary, Freeman calls her work a piece of fiction.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
LISA PIEPER University of Idaho (Dr. Laura Putsche).
Englund, Harri and James Leach. Ethnography and the Meta-Narratives of Modernity. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41 (2): 225-248.
Englund and Leach have dedicated this article to examining the current trend among anthropologists, especially ethnographers, in using multiple definitions of modernity to explain the meta-narratives that they encounter during their field work. It is pointed out early in the article that modernity today continues to retain key principles of previous meta-narratives. The article itself is presented under four distinct sub-headings. The first of these is The Sociological Legacy. Within this section, the reader is presented with the history of anthropology as a “progression through a series of meta-narratives.” We are told that meta-narratives serve not only as guidelines for the formulation of research questions, but as guidelines for particular answers.
Within this first section is a sub-section called Modernity and the Person, which is dedicated to revealing the idea that individuals view their world through lenses abstracted by their modern meta-narratives. Two other sections are dedicated solely to research projects conducted by both Englund and Leach. The projects are used as examples of how modernity and meta-narrative can be seen in current research. Both Englund and Leach place themselves and their ideas in their examples. This is helpful for readers because it lets them know where the authors are coming from.
The two examples used to support the authors’ point are those of Leach’s work on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea and Englund’s work in Southern Africa. Englund’s work in New Guinea is titled “Knowing White People’s Wealth” and is about the natives inquiries into white people and the origin of their money. We are then told about the idea of wealth according to the natives, and how this differs from western meta-narratives. Leach’s work involves the modern Pentecostals and their definitions of Christianity and medicine. The reader is told that “black people’s medicine” is considered evil, while Christian medicine is seen as safe and Godly.
The fourth section, Modernity’s Meta-narratives and the Knowledge Practices of Ethnography, is dedicated to discussing scale and situation within ethnography. We are also reminded that ethnography, essentially, is a large scale comparison and that “the ethnographer has no choice but to write in relation to what his or her readers can be assumed to already know.”
This article, arguing for the use of modernity within ethnography gets its point across, but does so in a tedious fashion and with much confusion.
The authors’ reply to comments simply reinforces that their interest is in localized fieldwork, and “has nothing to do with a spatial definition of the anthropologist’s field.” They contend that they chose their areas of study because they “appear to have imported both the hopes and the despair of the project of modernity.” Englund and Leach point out that interpretations of experiences are due to meta-narratives, and through these personal understandings, there are variations that must be addressed. These variations are each person’s own “lived realities.”
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JESSICA NELSON-SELLERS University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Englund, Harri and James Leach. Ethnography and Meta-Narratives of Modernity. Current Anthropology April, 2000 Vol.41(2):225-248.
The purpose of Englund and Leach’s article is to convey their concern that the meta-narratives of modernity are compromising the quality of ethnographic knowledge. The authors feel that when meta-narratives become prevalent in ethnographic fieldwork and other interpretations, anthropology is deprived of an integral aspect – that being it’s reflexivity. Reflexivity allows a critical perspective to be employed against a work, seeking to uncover ethnocentricities or misperceptions. Long term ethnographic fieldwork is, according to the authors, the best way to collect anthropological knowledge, because through personal experience, preconceived Western ideas may be dispelled before the data undergoes its final interpretation.
Englund and Leach explain that throughout the history of anthropology, one will observe a series of meta-narratives that are rooted in an ambivalence which is largely of a Western construct. Since the early 1900’s, with the conception of sociology, ambivalence has been a primary theme in discourses of modernity. Emile Durkheim and Max Weber were key proponents in this movement, focusing on the breakdowns and disenchantments of modernities. The authors drew attention to the fact that ambivalence towards modernity is commonplace within a Western cosmology.
Englund and Leach describe that the current meta-narrative categorizes our world as one of multiple modernities. There are three aspects of modernity that must be understood: modernity is everywhere, modernity cannot be defined in advance, and diverse cultures persist. Furthermore, the authors discuss how in both sociology and anthropology, the concepts of the person and of self identity are integral in the study of modernity and the associated meta-narratives.
The remainder of the article demonstrates the effect of meta-narratives in ethnographic fieldwork. One case study examines notions of white people and the origins of their wealth in Papua New Guinea, the second, Pentacostalism in Malawi.
The comments section is comprised of a range of responses. The majority summarize the article before addressing their own concerns, which facilitates a more complete understanding of the original article.
There is unanimous agreement on the value of ethnographic fieldwork, and with the authors’ statement that prolonged exposure to a culture both enhances one’s understanding of it, and reduces ethnocentric interpretations.
Interestingly, one of the commentators, Birgit Meyer, of Amsterdam’s Research Center of Religion and Society, was the researcher whose study of Pentacostalism was examined by Englund and Leach. Meyer felt as though her work was misinterpreted by the authors, so she states what her goals and objectives had been in the fieldwork.
Overall, criticisms were limited, and most agreed that whether or not meta-narratives were acknowledged, the integrity of anthropological knowledge is worth preserving.
The reply section reiterates the most salient points from the article and clarifies concerns that several of the commentators expressed. Englund and Leach say that despite their statement that long term field work is most desirable, it has become less practical within many areas of academia. Also, they acknowledge it will do no good to merely reword the meta-narratives that they have been trying to avoid, but a complete understanding of them and their underlying assumptions is necessary to remain free of their grasp.
JASMINE MARSHALL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Fordred-Green, Lesley. Tokoloshe Tales: Reflections on the Cultural Politics of Journalism in South Africa. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(5):701-712.
In this work Lesley Fordres-Green discusses the implications of Tokoloshe tales in South African journalism. Tokoloshe tales are local cultural explanations for bizarre creatures and weather phenomenon. The author indicates that Tokoloshe tales are “written off” by journalists and are found in marginalized sections of the newspaper. The article begins with a case study of articles published by the Natal Witness newspaper. In 1995 the Natal Witness published a series of stories that contained folkloric explanations for recent events. News reporting of a large tornado included a discussion of the Zulu villagers’ belief that the devastation was the result of actions by a large snake that lives in deep water. The author indicates that articles such as these were an attempt by the mainstream media to include prevailing cultural mythologies. However, the reporting of cultural interpretations of events tends to be located in the back pages of the newspaper and do not receive the same emphasis as “scientific” explanations. The author indicates that the lack of validity applied to cultural explanations reflects the larger rural-urban divisions within South Africa. Tokoloshe tales challenge the secular objectivity of the newspaper and represent a threat to the larger cultural order. As a result newspaper reporting tends to limit the inclusion of Tokoloshe tales and tries to discredit the stories that are included. The author provides a collection of various interpretations of the Transkei River monster as a second case study for her discussion of media reporting. The Transkei River monster appeared in 1997 and was believed to be responsible for a number of murders. The international news firm, Reuters, reported the river monster as an element of local folklore and ended its report with a reference to the Loch Ness Monster. The author indicates that this type of reporting contributes to a rejection of folkloric explanations and increasing cultural hegemony. Further reporting of the river monster tended to attribute the river deaths to natural forces or to the actions of a serial killer. The author indicates that explanations of the Transkei River monster moved from the supernatural to the natural in an attempt to conform to mainstream culture. The challenge for future journalists is to try to find balance between folkloric and scientific explanations for natural phenomenon.
JULIE-ANNA RODMAN University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Fordred-Green, Leslie. Tokoloshe Tales: Reflections on the Cultural Politics of Journalism in South Africa. Current Anthropology December, 2000 Vol.41(5): 701-713.
The purpose of this article is to allow Fordred-Green to present her theory that during a change in the political economy, journalistic objectivity is likely to deteriorate. Her study is based in South Africa, and focuses on two styles of reporting events in the news. The
author notes that the variety of ways in which an issue may be delivered to the public affects its credibility. In one instance, a reporter relayed a story about a tornado from the folkloric perspective of the villagers, and he was applauded for his style – others were even encouraged to emulate it. On the other hand, the author tells of a seemingly similar story being published, yet it ended up being disregarded as serious news and interpreted by readers as the humorous story of the day.
The major difference between the two kinds of stories is the presence, or absence, of “cultural resonances”. In the first story, the author had researched, or possessed personal knowledge, of local legends. Upon publication, this knowledge lends credibility to the
story, whereas in the second instance, the author had simply embellished certain fantastic details without conveying the pertinent cultural information.
Fordred- Green states that because of the recent power shift in South Africa, it has become acceptable in reporting to deliver less objective stories, so long as they contain legitimate and recognized aspects of the local people’s cosmology. Pure fiction, however, remains unacceptable at the professional level of newspaper reporting. The author concludes her article by stating her belief that the next goal of reporting in South Africa will be to separate truth from the dominant hegemony.
JASMINE MARSHALL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Freeman, Derek. Was Margaret Mead Misled of Did She Mislead on Samoa? Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(4):609-614.
In this article Derek Freeman argues that Margaret Mead was hoaxed by her two Samoan traveling companions, and that this hoaxing was the foundation for Mead’s book, “Coming of Age in Samoa.” Freeman is engaged in an ongoing debate with Martin Orans over Mead’s work. In addition to his argument, Freeman responds to Orans’ claims that Mead knew enough about Samoan society to know that adolescent females were not secretly sexually promiscuous, and therefore could not have been misled or hoaxed by these two women.
Freeman takes a historical approach to Mead’s study. To reach his conclusions, he relies on all available documents of Mead including her field notes, correspondence, and an interview with one of the two traveling companions. He presents a chronological analysis of Mead’s study beginning with her initial directions from Boas. She was to study the impact that culture had on adolescent behavior. Freeman states that Boas also instructed her to stay away from ethnological study during her stay. An offer from the Bishop Museum, however, presented itself and Mead agreed to conduct ethnographic research in spite of Boas. Much of her time, Freeman asserts, was spent in pursuit of this secondary study.
Mead went to Samoa with preconceptions from other works she had read that both sexes were sexually active prior to marriage. During the first month of her stay she was told by an English-speaking wife of a chief that virginity was highly valued and guarded within the culture. With no other data, Mead wrote to Boas that secret promiscuity was very common. Freeman suggests this statement arose from her preconceptions and a desire to please Boas. Mead did collect more data but none, argues Freeman, which could lead to the conclusions that she was making. The pivotal point that Freeman finds in Mead’s documents is the entry on March 13, 1926. According to Freeman it was on this day that Mead was hoaxed by her traveling companions. Based on this data, Mead declared to have found what Boas wanted. This date and occurrence have been verified by one of the traveling companions. This woman has admitted to giving Mead incorrect information regarding the levels of sexual freedom during adolescence in Samoa. Due to the process of cultural patterning, approved whole-heartedly by Boas, little other research was done by Mead for the rest of her stay.
Throughout this article Derek Freeman responds to criticisms and claims made by Orans. Orans uses only Mead’s field notes for information. He failed to research many very valuable sources of Mead’s correspondence to gain more evidence. Orans finds her study flawed and uses hypothetical arguments to explain why she was not hoaxed at all. Freeman argues that if Orans is right, then Margaret Mead is guilty of deliberate falsification, no light crime. Freeman dismisses the approach taken by Orans due to its lack of historical evidence and its “simple logic”.
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LIVIA PEART University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Freeman, Derek, Martin Orans, and James E. Cote. CA Forum on Theory in Anthropology, Sex and Hoax in Samoa. Current Anthropology August-October, 2000. Vol.41(4): 609-22.
The first article in this CA Forum is Derek Freeman’s, “Was Margaret Mead Mislead or Did She Mislead on Samoa?” From the start Freeman states, the purpose and methods used in examining this issue. Both Freeman and Orans studied the research papers of Mead from 1925-26, and both drew very different conclusions. This difference in opinion in Freeman’s view is that Orans restricted himself to only Mead’s field notes, where as he also read all of Mead’s correspondence. By examining not just the field notes, Freeman feels he received a deeper historical understanding of Mead, which supported his theory that Mead was indeed hoaxed by her traveling companions.
Freeman’s paper involves both a historical and personality analyses of Margaret Mead’s Samoan fieldwork. His objective is to present his analysis in a systematic way that is based on relevant primary sources, and then let the reader decide that his historical and personality account is accurate. From here, Freeman launches into a systematic examination of Mead, beginning with her childhood, to her relationship with Boas. This relationship with Boas is a pivotal one in Freeman’s opinion, for not only did Mead not have any interest in this area of research, but also it was Boas who imposed the research topic of adolescence sexual behaviour in Samoa on her. That, in Freeman’s eyes, expresses just how influential Boas was in Mead’s life, and also shows that this high need to please and not disappointment Boas fuelled Mead in ensuring that her data in Samoa supported his original theory on adolescence sexual behaviour.
Freeman also examines at the time Mead was working on her ethnography of Manu’a for the Bishop Museum of Honolulu. Freeman feels that Orans overlooked the two months that Mead spent studying Manu’a during her five-month stay in Samoa. To Freeman, it is this ethnological research at the Bishop Museum that is critical in the failure of Mead’s Samoan research. It is on one of her Manu ethnographic study trips that she received the “whispered confidences” of her traveling companions, Fofoa and Fa’apua’a, which in the end lead to Mead being hoaxed and mislead.
The second article in this CA Forum, “Hoaxing, Polemics and Science”, is by Orans dismisses Freeman’s explanation, for in his words, the errors Freeman gathered from Mead from her letters to Boas do not stand up to “simple logic”. Mead had a clear understanding of Samoan’s premarital sex restrictions, and to say that Mead was hoaxed is an error, for Mead knew that promiscuity applied to less than half of her adolescent sample. That statement is what constitutes the remaining half of Orans’s article, for indeed, “Mead knew that sex life of female adolescents in Samoa was by both precept and practice more restricted than what she required to make her case” (615). That, in Orans’s view, proves that most of Mead’s work is polemical and misleading, for it contradicts most of her research work that she did while in Samoa.
The third and final article in this CA Forum series is James E. Cote’s, “Was Coming of Age in Samoa Based on a “Fateful Hoaxing?” A Close look at Freeman’s Claim Based on the Mead-Boas Correspondence”. Cote feels that by reading the correspondence in a dispassionate manner, no evidence is given to support Freeman’s theory that Mead was either hoaxed or under an extreme anxiety to please Boas (616). Instead, Cote states that Mead had matured over her five month stay in Samoa and that even before the alleged “whisper confidences” by her two traveling companions, Mead had already drawn her conclusions. Cote supports his argument by re-evaluating the correspondence between Mead and Boas between 1925-1926, noting that these were the exact correspondence Freeman used in his article. Cote highlights five points that stand out in these articles that support his argument against Freeman’s theory of Mead being misled on Samoa.
Replies by Freeman to both Orans and Cote rounds off this CA Forum. He starts off with a brief explanation of why the history of Mead’s research time in Samoa is important in this anthropological issue. Freeman feels that both Orans and Cote’s lack of understanding of the historical evidence, not to mention its importance, is one that is unbelievable and totally dismissible to him. Freeman spends the rest of his time focusing on Cote’s article, in particular Cote’s assumption that Mead should have been able to gain enough information on the sexual activities of her sample group of adolescence females in her five-month stay. To Freeman, this lack of Cote’s understanding of the impact that Mead’s Ethnology of Manu’a for the Bishop Museum had on her adolescence sexual behaviour study is a new nadir to him.
EVA-MARIE C. KOVACS Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Houston, Steven, Robertson, John, Stuart, David. The Language of Classic Mayan Inscriptions. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(1):321-356
The authors present evidence that Classic Mayan writing records represent a single distinct language. They presume the Mayan inscriptions between A.D. 250-850 are an ancestral form of Ch’orti, an ancient language and its immediate parent language Ch’olti, therefore indicating Classic Mayan script should be viewed as a representation of a prestige language. They profess Mayan script was a mark of social distinction. Language of the glyphs has been seen as having close association with Ch’olan and Tzeltatlan, subfamilies of Mayan. Yukatec languages spoken throughout much of the Mayan lowland are also considered to be reflected in the ancient script, therefore adopting a multilingual approach to the study.
Previous arguments for language affiliation have relied on geographical, lexical and morphological evidence. They have assumed that locations of inscriptions geographically indicate where the language was being recorded. The evidence, which focuses on form and historical developments of passives, middle voiced verbs and transitive positionals, is difficult to understand without extensive linguistics background in Mayan languages, their dialects, and knowledge of the glyphs themselves. Highlighted are crucial grammatical changes in the use of the language which are claimed to be unique to the Classic Ch’olti’an lineage.
Diglossia is the coexistence of two dialects or related languages, each performing a distinct social function. Typically one is considered “high” and more formal and the other “low” and informal. High language is more likely to be liturgical or literary and acquired through formal schooling, while low is unwritten, commonplace and conversational. Based on this distinction, the authors conclude that the Classic Mayan script must have been a prestige language.
Undeniably stating there is more work to be done on the inscriptions for an evidentiary connection to the language of elites, the authors recognize that a deeper investigation and collaboration among linguists and glyph specialists is essential. Mayanists will have to pay more attention to prestige languages allied with script, and the research they have done needs to be compared in a more detailed fashion. They have especially solicited other scholars to test their theory against hundreds, if not thousands, of texts from which they had derived their evidence. After all the evidence presented it is possible that it is not a prestige language, but that the language served as a lingua franca that performed its role in diplomacy and trade, removed from the elites. Stating their findings may be modified after work by others, they invite an in-depth study for consistency of lack of consistency in their work.
Comments from linguists, anthropologists, and art historian regard the quality of evidence presented in favor of setting a foundation that Classic Mayan language is a distinct language of the elites. It is imprudent in the presence of glyphic data to claim correlations between locations of glyphs at archaeological sites and languages spoken during colonial or modern periods. Consequently, many of the scholars responding question whether the information is substantial enough for the connection to be made,
CLARITY RANKING 3
JOAN WELLS University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Jones, Doug. Group Nepotism and Human Kinship. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(5):779-810.
The article presents a discussion of group nepotism defined by the author as assistance to individuals carried out by groups rather than by kin. Doug Jones reasons that because of the large number and variety of kinship systems, group nepotism could be one option that would expand the breadth of the theory of kin selection and allow for a greater understanding of the development of collective actions. Jones suggests that there may be a psychological adaptation, which he deems as “moral sentiments” for members of large groups to afford benevolence to their mutual kin beyond the level that would be adaptive for individuals acting alone. The author examines genetic relatedness in terms of how groups interpret their biological boundaries, demand sharing, and a series of models to demonstrate how moral sentiment plays a role in small scale societies. Lastly, Jones explores groups in terms of ethnocentrism and ethnonnationalism explaining the ease at which people generally slide into group identities.
Jones argues that the kin classifications at hand do not provide a dependable guide to exact ancestral connections, citing examples such as demand sharing among subsistence hunters who extend support outside the immediate family. Jones stipulates that shared food would extend beyond relatives if the group members are accepted as such by the other group members. The author introduces the term “group nepotism” to explain individual benefit from a non-related family group.
Jones points out that social relations are governed by an exercise of coercion, and that kin altruism based on genetic relatedness does not encompass individuals outside the family. Therefore, group adaptation as opposed to kinship identity appears in the form of ethnocentrism and ethno-nationalism giving individuals not related a sense of oneness.
Reviews for this article express a wide range of opinion. One review proposed that group nepotism is a new and useful term that will aid in understanding the extension of collective nepotism beyond genetically related individuals. Contrasting opinions contend that group nepotism is contained in the concept of culture and does not require separate nomenclature. Regardless of the semantics, investigations into the social and hunting benefits for non-related individuals broaden our understanding of group adaptation.
Jones concedes that much theoretical and empirical work remains to be done. However he articulates the need to consider the interplay of social structure and genetic relatedness in the making of kinship structures.
ELIZABETH ELLIS University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Karakasidou, Anastasia. National Homogeneity and Cultural Representation in Four Works on Greek Macedonia. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(3):415-425.
The tendency of academics and governments to look at modern nations as culturally homogenous during and since the cold war era is the focus of this work of Anastasia Karakasidou. She uses the Greek government’s current policy of supporting the idea of national homogeneity and its denial of the existence of a culturally different “other” group in Macedonia as an example of this tendency seen throughout the world. Karakasidou is concerned with how minority cultures, established long before modern national borders, are being ignored and denied “existence” by government policies demanding the acceptance of a national identity. In spite of “radical critiques” of cold war era paradigms, even academic organizations support “commitment to national cultures and ideologies: American studies, Russian studies . . . Modern Greek studies.” With respect to how Slavic-speakers of northern Greece (Greek Macedonia) have been represented, Karakasidou looks at four recently published works on Greek Macedonia, and “explore[s] how, in such contexts, anthropologists might more effectively discuss cultural groups.”
The areas and works examined by Karakasidou begin with a look at “the national historical order” as written of by Ioannis Koliopoulos. Next, she looks at sentimental narratives as seen through the historical fiction of the poet Panos Theodoridis. Then she examines the construction of “Orientalized images of majority tyranny” by Greek and non-Greek minority-rights advocates in the writings of NGO activist Hugh Poulton. She completes her critiques with a look at the “sympathetic participant-observation” of anthropologist Loring Danforth.
Koliopoulos examines the existence of Slavic-speakers and “Macedonian people” historically as impositions made by the Soviet Union following World War II. Theodoridis writes of an Athenian military officer who crossed the Ottoman border into Macedonia to help organize pro-Greek groups in 1906, during the “Macedonian Struggle.” Karakasidou notes that neither was likely aware of the contributions he made to the construction of a national Greek identity.
Karakasidou moves on to examine the works of Hough Poulton and Loring Danforth. Poulton sees the existence of minorities, specifically Slavic-speaking Macedonians, as historical truths. The culture belongs to the land of its origin regardless of the political boundaries within which it finds itself. Danforth examines a group of Slavic-speaking Macedonians residing in Australia. He notes that the term “Macedonian” is a contested one. However, he does use the “standard anthropological practice of employing indigenous categories and labels when referring to cultural groups of any kind.” This culture group identifies itself as Macedonian, not Greek, regardless of where it finds itself.
These are four different writers discussing the same region and people, yet they have two very different foci. Two see Greece as a nation with one identity, while the other two see the Greek nation made up of minority ethnicities. Karakasidou maintains that anthropologists need to make distinctions between cultural assertions (rhetoric about the nation) and sovereignty demands (rhetoric about the state). Otherwise, anthropology contributes to the “invention and imagination of the nation while also legitimizing its political existence.” All voices, both of authority and submission, need to be included and heard. However, as Clifford Geertz (1973:340) says, “The mingled voices must be distinguished so that we can hear what each of them is saying.”
LISA M. BABICH University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Karakasidou, Anastasia. Essential Differences: National Homogeneity and Cultural Representation in Four Recent Works on Greek Macedonia. Current Anthropology June, 2000 Vol.41(3): 415-425.
This article is an evaluation on discrepancies that occur in ethnographies and other literature that misrepresent the peoples being studied. In previous ethnographies, the village being studied has been thought to represent the entire nation. Ethnographies of small populations in Greece have led to generalizations about Greek culture, despite the variations in subcultures. In Greece, small populations are considered to represent the Greek. This cultural nationalism can be dangerous as it can lead to trampling of minorities. Ethnographies can be used for political agendas, therefore ethics are important. In the evaluation the author examines four papers that deal with Slavic-speaking peoples in Greece, and how they have been represented in literature. The authors of these papers either argue for legitimate status of a minority, or national order.
Ioannis Kolopolous wrote on Greece and the Slavic-speaking people’s identity. This work unintentionally misrepresents Slavic-speaking peoples because the archives Kolopolous used were incorrect. He also disregards factors that do not fit with his argument. Panos Theodonidis wrote a novella in 1994 that tried to put early eighteenth century Macedonian events in context with world developments. He related events in Macedonia to other historical events in order to give his main Greek character more prestige. The book attempts to illustrate how the Greeks saved the Macedonians from the ignorant ways of the Ottomans. Both Theodonidis and Kolopolous contribute to the national homogeneity in Greece.
Hugh Poulton argued in his book that the particular Macedonian geography kept the peoples culturally isolated, except from major events. The people were able to develop their own unique culture. He also tries to define who the Macedonians are and what their identity is in Greece. Loring Danforth, an anthropologist, looked at the label “Macedonian” and who has the right to say they are Macedonian. Both Greeks and Macedonians were unsure of this book. Danforth recognizes that the Macedonians have a different past than the Greeks, and that the political and historical events create different versions of the truth.
The first two works, according to Karakasidou, try to give the reader the impression of a single, unified Greek culture. The authors of the second two works try to give the minority a voice. These works illustrate the fact that anthropologists contribute to ideologies, whether or not it is intentional.
SANDRA FOX Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Kirkpatrick, R.C. The Evolution of Human Homosexual Behavior. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(3):385-414.
In this article, Kirkpatrick examines human homosexual behavior with an evolutionary agenda. He recognizes the paradox that it presents, as homosexuality has been thought of as nonreproductive and therefore nonadaptive, and explores alternative evolutionary reasons for the behavior. Kirkpatrick addresses three hypotheses dealing with the adaptation of homosexual behavior: kin selection, parental manipulation, and alliance formation (reciprocal altruism).
Kin selection is based on humans having few children over a lifetime with high parental investment in each child’s survival. Kin selection proposes that homosexual behavior increases the reproductive success of kin as those who do not reproduce increase reproductive success of kin by either direct support of offspring, direct support of the lineage, or indirect support by not creating more competition for the offspring. The homosexual may devote time and resources to the offspring since he has no offspring of his own.
It would therefore make sense for parents to encourage a child to engage in homosexual behavior and not reproduce in order to assist in raising the children of the sibling. This is what Kirkpatrick calls parental manipulation because parents of a selected child may decide to manipulate a child to forsake reproduction and become homosexual in order to help the family. In order for this hypothesis and the kin selection hypothesis to hold, they must be in compliance with three central predictions: “1) that homosexual behavior reduces individual reproductive success, 2) that lineages with homosexuals have greater reproductive success than lineages without, and 3) that homosexual behavior is typically seen in individual of low reproductive potential.”
The evidence supporting the prediction that homosexual behavior reduces individual reproductive success is equivocal, explains Kirkpatrick. Many people who engage in homosexual behavior have children, because most are bisexual. In order to prove that homosexual behavior increases reproductive success for lineages, there must be a greater number of offspring that survive in lineages with homosexuals than lineages without. The data to support this is lacking, however. The third prediction is the strongest, which is that homosexuality is typical in individuals of low reproductive potential. Individuals of low birth order presumably have less chance of reproduction, which seems to be apparent in the U.S. and Canada where male homosexuals tend to have more older brothers than do male heterosexuals.
Kirkpatrick supports alliance formation (reciprocal altruism), which states that homosexuality is a survival mechanism where relationships are formed in order to enhance an individual’s (or an individual’s family’s) economic or social status. He says that same-sex alliances aid individual survival, that homosexual behavior aids in the formation of same-sex alliances and that bisexuality is more common than homosexuality.
Williams’ main problem with the way Kirkpatrick looked at the evolution of human homosexual behavior is that he does not believe that everything has to be explained in terms of social function. While he agrees with Kirkpatrick’s alliance theory, Williams believes that there are other motivators. Williams points out that genital stimulation feels good. This is the basis for his reasoning that primates might be inclined to practice homosexuality if they enjoy the stimulation that they receive from a same-sex partner. Williams says the question is then not “why certain individuals enjoy participating in sexual pleasure with another person of the same sex but why certain individuals would limit this pleasurable activity of genital stimulations solely to the other sex.”
CLARITY RANKING: 4
MERI GUELLD University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Kirkpatrick, R. C. The Evolution of Human Homosexual Behavior. Current Anthropology June, 2000 Vol. 41(3):385-409.
In this article the author evaluates at four possible explanations for the existence of homosexual behavior. The first of these considered is whether homosexuality is altruistically based. Does an individual choose to forego reproduction in favour of helping to raise and support the offspring of relatives? This may be explained by survival of the family lineage through reproductive success. This strategy is based less on quantity of children and more on the quality of childcare. In this case, if a homosexual is able to effectively increase the reproductive success of kin, then the transmission of this genetic material may compensate for the homosexuals lack of offspring. It has been suggested that parents may manipulate some of their offspring into becoming homosexual to assist in the raising of siblings or the offspring of siblings. This is countered with the argument that many people who have engaged in homosexual behavior do have children. In some societies homosexual behavior is only tolerated before a certain age or so long as reproductive responsibilities are fulfilled. In some societies, boys command a greater birthright than girls. In other societies, the family may try to influence the sexuality of their sons in order to use them to establish connection with more influential and wealthier families, or to make them qualify for various social positions. Homosexual relationships may also lead to an alliance for mutual protection
There has also been some research on the evolution of homosexual behavior and the influence of genes. Homosexuals and bisexuals who have identified themselves do tend to run in family lines, suggesting some genetic influence. Studies on twins that have been done also suggest environmental factors play an important role. Military service and attendance at British public schools is also said to increase homosexual behavior by 50 percent. Birth order has also been positively correlated with the likelihood that an individual will behave in a homosexual manner in direct correlation with the number of older brothers in the family.
The author has drawn from a variety of theories that have been used to help understand homosexuality. However, as he states in the beginning, there is little evidence to support altruistic homosexuality, or his other hypotheses, but neither can they be disproved. Kirkpatrick believes that as long as sex and reproduction continue to be the focus of homosexual evolution, its explanatory power will remain limited; which is why he has used a variety of hypotheses.
Most of the commentators are in support of his work and his unique attempt to find the origin of homosexual behavior. Others are grateful for the void it has filled in the literature on homosexual behavior. There is some concern about the detail of the definition; some claiming it to be too broad, though others believe it is too focused. They all agreed that the data he has used is weak, and in many instances leaves the argument unconvincing. One commenter expressed concern that the reason for the lack of supporting data is because sexual behavior is often considered “gutter” language, which makes it hard to seriously consider. Homophobia is considered by some to be the real problem, not homosexuality and this needs to be studied in greater depth.
In his reply, Kirkpatrick acknowledges that the data he uses is weak but that he was limited in resources. He also acknowledges that there is some overlap between various schemes. However he fails to see where the concern is that some of the commentators have expressed. He also qualifies some of the concerns expressed by the commentators and supports his position on why he would not implement their suggestions. As for the social context in which the research took place, he cannot separate the two. The best he can hope for is that it does not alter the scientific analysis of his ideas.
FRASER BOULTON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Lambek, Michael. The Anthropology of Religion and the Quarrel between Poetry and Philosophy. Current Anthropology June, 2000 Vol.41(3):309-319.
In the article Lambek discusses the role of morality in anthropology=s study of religion. He begins by giving a definition of Plato=s argument on the distinction drawn between objective and mimetic relations, that is opposition he establishes between philosophy and poetry. The author argues that Plato’s need for categorical distinctions has resulted in our need to classify and rank different forms of thought, which in turn force a choice between maintaining a distance from religion or attempting to identify with the subject. He suggests there is a need to look in the past as a means of moving forward, suggesting that Aristotle can provide an alternative route.
It is the concept of phronesis or moral judgment which the author feels is important and by this he argues a need to expand on the value placed on abstract reason given by Plato. Indicated is a need to extend the focus on politics and power in contemporary studies with that of morality, but he also argues that religion is also an administration of power and thus anthropology must put into context where and how such power is produced in a broader cultural order, what is proposed rather is that morality should be considered along with power and desire. Considerable importance is placed on the dichotomy between the views of Plato and Aristotle in establishing and maintaining his argument but would benefit from an argument which expands beyond Plato and Aristotle.
CHARLENE HAYNES Okanagan University College (Diana French)
MacEachern, Scott. Genes, Tribes, and African History. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(3):357-384.
This article evaluates current literature that discusses the genetic, archaeological, and ethnographic data on African communities. The main reference the author uses is Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi, and Piazza’s The History and Geography of Human Genes, on which almost all of the author’s arguments are based. With respect to this book, mostly the chapters concerning African history/genealogies are analyzed and discussed, although other chapters are mentioned.
The author begins by questioning the validity of many sources concerned with African lineages, based on linguistic data, genetics, and any other methods used, and their relationships to one another. MacEachern questions the way the studies were conducted with respect to multi-disciplinary ideals, and how these multi-disciplinary studies pertain to each other. An example of this is how mitochondrial DNA analysis compares to ethnographic studies. The author then questions how much analysis can really reflect genetic distance, when the demes and tribes of recent times seem to be arbitrary. Here he states that many groups are together because of convenient ways of clumping people, such as modern day states enforcing boundaries not necessarily natural in a genetic sense. Generally the author states that groups are difficult to determine in recent times.
Next, he defines the way population samples are identified: traditional ethnonyms, language affiliations, geographical designations, and physical characteristics (phenotypes). The author uses African examples to represent this, such as the Pygmy, Khoisan, and Caucasian influence on groups. The use of their (Pygmy, Khoisan, and Caucasian) languages in modern form should be used as a defining link between populations for continued evaluation. The author then shows all the material described summed up into a set of synthetic maps. These maps define African groups using the identification tools stated above. The maps show a change of group distribution from one parameter to the other with only slight to minimal consistency between defined groups.
Finally, the author concludes his paper by saying that the book in question is a good source to look at African genetic distance, but, that it is not an all encompassing way of defining populations. Instead, populations are ever changing entities and should not be solely used to describe human history and prehistory.
The author replies to Froment’s concern about using demes as a concept of analyzing genetic variability. The author says that “muddying” the terminology water is probably unneeded and agrees essentially with Froment in that aspect. The author also replies to S.O.Y. Keita’s suggestion of expanding parts of the paper’s analysis. The author agrees, but says that he was forced to restrict the paper to “relevant sections of The History and Geography of Human Genes.” Also the author replies to Keita’s observation of the literature’s affect on analysis of African history and racial models of human typology. He says that Keita is correct in pointing out these “larger implications.”
CLARITY RANKING: 2
THOMAS WORTMAN University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Mintz, Sidney W. Sows’ Ears and Silver Linings: A Backward Look at Ethnography. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(2):169-189.
Mintz summarizes this article effectively in the second sentence, “This paper briefly examines the contribution of four ethnographers in order to argue that ethnography based on fieldwork remains essential to our definition as a profession.” From there, the author discusses the need for fieldwork in recent times, i.e. changes since previous works have been done. These include changes in the cultures previously studied, loss of observer-centered disciplines, and the overuse of the word culture in the wrong context. Following these points, a brief history of ethnography is presented. Then an introduction, preceding the lengthy descriptions, of each ethnographer is offered. The first ethnographer is James Mooney, who described the Ghost Dance religion of the Sioux. Here the author describes the life and work of Mooney, and how he came about with his ethnography. Then in the end of his description, the author states Mooney’s view on fieldwork, which was that fieldwork is necessary, and it must be communicated.
The next ethnographer described is Roy Franklin Barton, who studied the Ifugao people of the Philippines. Once again, the ethnographer’s life and work is summarized, along with a synopsis of Barton’s view on fieldwork, i.e. he liked doing it, and felt compelled to do it.
The following ethnographer portrayed is Audrey Isabel Richards. The author did not state one defining study of Richards’, other than that she almost married Bronislaw Malinowski. But, again her life and work is described, but without a defining view on fieldwork to capstone the section.
The final ethnographer presented is Anastacio Zayas Alvarado, a sugarcane worker with whom the author worked with for almost 50 years. Alvarado’s relationship with the author is described as well as his impact on the author’s works. Also, it is explained why the author argues that Alvarado should be considered an ethnographer.
Next, the article presents commonalities of the four ethnographers, which include the stress on commitment to the work they were doing. Also, the author confronts some ways fieldwork can address the problems that were described earlier. Finally, Mintz seems to call to arms the need for ethnography by trained anthropologists.
Mintz replies first to Kevin Dwyer’s concern that the author is limiting ethnography to a connection to fieldwork and theory. The author assures that it was not his intention to do this. Later the author replies to Don Donham’s comment of “bureaucratic rationality, an emphasis on efficiency and production -in a phrase, the market- invaded academic life over this period in a qualitative new way.” Here the author absolutely agrees with Donham’s assessment.
THOMAS WORTMAN University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Mintz, Sidney W. Sow’s Ears and Silver Linings: A Backward Look at Ethnography. Current Anthropology April 2000 Vol. 41(2):169-189.
Mintz argues that traditional anthropological fieldwork remains an indispensable factor to anthropology. He claims that in recent decades, the place of ethnography has changed, and that anthropological theory is diverging away from being rooted in field data. Three reasons are given as to why anthropological fieldwork has changed so much in the recent past. The first is that traditional typological terms have become more difficult to apply to societies because of the growing permeable national and cultural borders. The second reason is that the significance of the observer actually participating in the culture or phenomena under observation has dropped in popular thought. The final reason provided for the change in fieldwork is the thinning of the meaning of culture, and the lack of effort to clearly define it. Mintz states that the crucial importance of fieldwork to anthropology is overlooked because it is seen as being merely a fraction of anthropological methodology. The author’s main argument is that fieldwork is a decisive and inescapable factor in the development of anthropological theory.
To argue for the utter importance of fieldwork to proper and complete anthropology, Mintz makes a clear statement that one does not have to be a professional ethnographer to compose ethnographies. He describes the contributions of four ethnographers with varying levels of education and formal fieldwork training, ranging from having extensive education to no formal instruction. Roy Franklin Barton, Audrey Isabel Richards, Anastacio Zayas Alvarado and James Mooney are analyzed here and commended for their solid dedication to their ethnographies. Their work and commitment to the cultures and phenomena they studied exemplifies Mintz’s point that fieldwork is essential to the discipline of anthropology and cannot be minimalized. Mintz supports his thesis by listing some of the most extensive and comprehensive works in the field of anthropology. The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, written by James Mooney, could not be one of the greatest studies of a Native American religion without the complete and laborious fieldwork of its author. This study illuminates the idea that you cannot know a people unless you immerse yourself in their culture and live among them. Roy Franklin Barton and Anastacio Zayas Alvarado had no formal training in ethnography but both their works illustrate that to write ethnographies, you do not need to be a certified ethnographer. Mintz concludes by stating that fieldwork is the silver lining to the cloud that is casting a shadow over anthropology, and that ethnographers themselves are the sow’s ears if they do not fully explore their subjects through involved and dedicated fieldwork.
Some commentators commend Mintz for revisiting basic truths about anthropology as a discipline. Kevin Dwyer acknowledges that fieldwork is at the heart of good anthropology and that a theory is only as good as the fieldwork from which it draws. Carla Freeman agrees with Mintz, but eludes that he is being too negative, that he fails to acknowledge the advancements in participant-observation methodology, and that perhaps the silver lining can outshine the sow’s ears. Olivia Harris agrees with Mintz and elaborates that anthropologists are under increased pressure and time deadlines to produce their work and consequently often neglect fieldwork. However, Harris argues that anthropology is still deeply rooted in participant observation methodology.
Mintz replies by explaining that he was not aiming to undermine the importance of theory to the discipline of anthropology, but that not all fieldwork invokes theory. He elucidates that his intentions were never to suggest that all anthropologists and anthropological theorists had to do fieldwork. He also recognizes that he has been slightly closed minded in seeing that current critiques have resulted in a deepening and improvement in ethnography.
SUSANNE TANJA WENGENMEIER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Paul, Robert A. Sons of Sonnets: Nature and Culture in a Shakespearean Anthropology.Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(1):1-10.
This article strives to prove that people, genes, and symbols are tightly tied to one another, meaning that people try to make things that surpass them by genetic and/or cultural reproduction, such as breeding or repeated circulation of works of literature or symbols. The author looks specifically at the first 19 sonnets of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Here he attempts to prove that Shakespeare writes about reproducing sexually, and replicating his poetry as a form for a young man’s beauty to surpass the lifespan of that youth.
The author begins with the first few sonnets, 1-7. Here he states that the poet is under the pressure of some young man’s guardian to help persuade the young man to copulate with a woman in order to advance his genetic code across time. The author uses interpretation of metaphors and line by line analysis, with respect to what he is trying to prove. Then Paul states, the first few sonnets are saying that in order for the boy’s beauty to keep living he should spawn a child or set of children with his features. The author then addresses the next few sonnets. Here the author says that the sonnets shift to a general theme of the poet falling in love with the young man, and that if the young man were to die or fade it would be a horrible loss to the poet. Then the next few sonnets are interpreted as saying that the poet now wants to save the young man’s beauty. This turns into pleading for the boy to allow the poet to write down as much about the splendor of the youth as possible so that it may live on through publication. Thus the boy’s beauty will never fade. Finally, the last few sonnets say that the first two themes must combine to truly save the youth’s beauty. That is to say, the boy should create an offspring and the poet should write down as much verse as possible about the boy. Thus the boy’s likeness will be reproduced by both sexual reproduction and reproduction through symbolic means, i.e. linguistic signs.
After the interpretation of the sonnets, the author continues to argue his point. He sums up his argument into three statements: “Symbolic reproduction is secondary to, and depends upon, sexual reproduction.” “Sexual and symbolic reproductions refer to each other in a relation of equality or mutual adequacy.” “Sexual reproduction is secondary or even irrelevant to symbolic reproduction.” That is to say, people, signs, and genes are all interrelated to each other, and one of the said triad depends on the other two for achieving continuation across time, as much as they depend on it.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
THOMAS WORTMAN University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Paul, Robert A. Sons or Sonnets: Nature and Culture in a Shakespearean Anthropology.Current Anthropology February, 2000 Vol.41(1): 1-11.
Robert Paul’s argument in this article is to contrast nature and culture via genetic and cultural perspectives. Paul focuses specifically on these elements in order to portray a clear image on his viewpoints about nature and culture. To argue his genetic and cultural perspective, symbolism in accordance with sexual reproduction and parental kinship patterns are used. He uses the first nineteen of William Shakespeare’s Sonnets (of which there are 157).
The reasoning behind only using the first nineteen of Shakespeare’s sonnets, is that Paul’s interpretations provided him with the basis of his argument. His explanations included focusing the creator (author) of the poem and the poem itself as a symbolic reference to a parent-child relationship. The reference specifically is supportive of the idea that humans are attempting to always transcend themselves, either through their children (the legacy ideal) or through creative energy (poetry). The parent-child metaphor is exemplified throughout all nineteen sonnets and is Paul’s main thesis to the genetic and cultural perspectives on nature versus culture.
As the explanations for these metaphors unfold, Paul transcends into explicit detail about signs, symbolism, and sexual reproduction. These arguments become confusing as he jumps from one sonnet to another and then back again. He also changes his vocabulary in dealing with specific terminology. This article, however, is unique in its substance, as using poetry to explain anthropology is uniquely personified.
BERNICE SAMPSON Okanagan University College (Diana E. French).
Pearson, Osbjorn M. Activity, Climate, and Postcranial Robusticity. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41 (4):569-607.
Pearson addresses the problem of assessing differences in bone robusticity between modern humans and Neanderthals. For many years, the prevailing view gave precedence to higher activity levels in Neanderthal populations rather than climatic adaptations as the cause of more robustness in their bones. Pearson argues that the recent emergence and spread of Homo sapiens into Europe and Asia out of equatorial Africa results in the lower levels of robustness found in the skeletons of these people. The climatic adaptations of H. sapiens were for a hotter, humid environment, where a linear build is the most efficient way of conserving energy and dissipating heat.
Pearson begins his assessment by measuring the skeletal remains of ten distinct populations of modern humans, separated by the region/climate where they are found, and the type of lifestyle led (hunter-gatherer or sedentary). As Pearson notes in his article, putting the moderns in two lifestyle groups may hide differences in bone size that are due to the diversity of activities within and between populations. For the Neanderthals and early modern humans, Pearson measured fossilized skeletons or their casts from six groups. The bones were measured and the results were analyzed using a traditional statistical regression method and Pearson’s new method. The first method requires an estimation of the body mass of the individual being measured. According to Pearson, this estimate results in errors within later calculations. The new method does not require this estimation, and due to technical aspects, is faster and less costly to implement.
Pearson’s assessment results in some interesting conclusions. Although activity levels have some effect on the skeletal robusticity of the recent humans, the biggest factors are the climatic adaptations. Pearson concludes that climatic adaptations over long periods of time result in higher levels of robustness within a population. The populations from cold climates had a higher robusticity level on average than those from hotter climates. Among the early moderns, the results were consistent with Pearson’s view of recent movement into colder climates from hotter climates. That is, the early moderns’ robusticity levels were comparable to those of recent moderns from hotter climates. In contrast, the Neanderthal specimens had the highest levels of robusticity found in this study. This is also consistent with Pearson’s view of the climate-robusticity connection, in that Neanderthals lived in a harsh, cold climate for over one-hundred-thousand years.
Pearson replied to a multitude of comments on this article, but space allows for only a couple to be addressed. One comment refers to Pearson’s use of the word robusticity as different from most anthropologists. As he stated in the article, the definition of robusticity is different among anthropologists, and its use should be defined for each article. The last reply concerns interaction of robusticity and lifestyle. One commentator surmised that it is easier to ascertain these associations when comparing archaics and moderns than between modern populations. Pearson disagrees due to the fact that we are able to collect information on modern populations, but cannot do the same for archaics.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
KEITH MOORE University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Povrzanovic, Maja. The Imposed and Imagined as Encountered by Croatian War Ethnographers. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(2):151-160.
The overall concern of this article is on the issue of writing ethnologies in a war-time setting, and the problems between insider/outsider anthropological perspectives. The author begins by illustrating the frustration of some of her Croatian colleagues when dealing with a foreign American social scientist who visited their country. The local anthropologists in the region and the visiting scholar ended their encounter in mutual frustration and irritation because of their differing points of view on the situation. Because of their insider position, the Croatian scholars felt reduced to informants by the visiting American scholar while the American became just another westerner who was not interested so much in the people as he was in wanting to “know”.
Povrzanovic describes some of the ethnographic articles about the war in Croatia. The Croatian intellectuals as a whole felt that they had a “reality based” perspective on the situation, and that therefore they could not be dismissed so easily as they felt they had been on the first illustrated instance. Because they had intimate knowledge and contact with the people (and in fact that they themselves were involved in the events of the war) they were aware even at the time of their writings that they had a partially biased stance in their viewpoints. As a result of that bias they believed the scholarly community (whom they felt was more interested in fitting the Croatian scholars into the “nationalistic mind frame” of the rest of the newly created Croatia.) at large should not ignore their viewpoints. Povrzanovic uses the term “Orientalizing” here to describe the process through which a national, and indeed even regional image is typically produced of a people by the western world.
It was this very process that the majority of the ethnographies produced by the Croatian scholars were trying to combat. The notion that the wars in the former Yugoslavia were a product of a nationalistic and ethnically divided people was at odds with the stance that Povrzanovic and her colleagues took. She believed that such nationalistic and ethnical divisions on such a wide scale were the products and not the cause of the war(s). In addition to this she makes it clear that there could be no single Croatian war experience, because the variety of everyday activities in the heavily attacked area and among refugees were so wide that it was impossible to treat them in general terms.
In her final statements, Povrzanovic makes a profound remark addressing the dilemma of writing ethnography as an anthropologist about one’s own people. “What we must focus our attention on is the quality of relations with the people we seek to represent in our texts: are they viewed as mere fodder for professionally self serving statements about a generalized Other, or are they accepted as subjects with voices, views, and dilemmas?”
CLARITY RANKING: 3
MORGAN HALL University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Povrzanovic, Maja. The Imposed and the Imagined as Encountered by Croatian War Ethnographers. Current Anthropology April, 2000 Vol.41(2):151-162.
In this article, Maja Povrzanovic discusses the intellectual concerns of Croatian ethnographers. These concerns emerged during and after the war that occurred between the Serbs and Croats in the early 1990’s. Povrzanovic points out that for the Croatian ethnographers, writing about the war led them to reconsider some important issues in anthropology, one being the “relations between insider and outsider scholars” (151). She also examines the “epistemological problems” that Croatian war ethnographers have
encountered due to their “being located between destruction and deconstruction”(151).
Povrzanovic draws on the work of both Croatian ethnographers and foreign anthropologists to illustrate the anthropological and intellectual concerns of the Croatian ethnographers. She notes that the Croatian ethnographers recognize the biases of their insights but feel that their work has the ability to influence their audience. They welcome outsiders and believe that the welcome “has to be adjusted to the outsiders’ language and codes, professionally advanced and politically correct”(153). The Croatian writers have also been encountering scholars who are “interested not in prewar and war-induced cultural processes in Yugoslavia and its successor-states but in an “Orientalizing” search for the way in which local scholars fit into the fixed nationalist frame of the new Croatian State”(153).
The Croatian ethnographers have been trying to illustrate that the “national narrative” and the “personal narrative” tend to be radically different from each other and that there was no universal Croatian reaction to the war. They have, however, been accused of “‘gatekeeping’ the refugees’ victim-hood” and turning them into “a monument of ideological fixations” (158). As well, the autobiographical accounts of some children are believed to be politicized and “manipulated in the direction of nationalist territorial claims”(158). The Croatian ethnographers have pointed out that they “addressed some of the epistemological and methodological problems entailed in the ethnographic reading of refugee childrens’ life histories” (158). They have also noted that, “in trying to get away from crude modes of representation – either politicized or detached from lived experience – we tried to reveal awareness of the manifold aspects of textuality of ethnographic accounts and interpretations, as well as of the historical determinations of their shape and function” (158).
For Povrzanovic, the war ethnographies were not written in an attempt to be “politically correct” in the “new nationalism-permeated state” and that the decision to write about the war was seen as political (159). She also notes that the war in Croatia occurred during a “wider shifting of social-paradigms – the reconstitution of social values in the context of the decay of communism and the building of a nation-state” (159).
CHRISTA TAYLOR Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. The Global Traffic in Human Organs. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(2):191-224.
In her article, Nancy Scheper-Hughes explores the macabre and covert world of organ transplant surgery and the international trade in human organs. She discusses the effects of this advancement in medical technology as well as the new global capitalist economy on traditional notions of life, death and bodily integrity. As the medical anthropologist for the Bellagio Task Force, she and several other colleagues set out to investigate allegations of human rights violations as a result of the increasing demand for human organs worldwide, focusing particularly on Brazil, South Africa and India. Scheper-Hughes sees the role of anthropology relevant in an argument previously confined largely to those in the medical community.
Her fieldwork included a number of direct observations and interviews with a variety of informants. She refers to testimonies of surgeons, transplant coordinators, nurses, hospital administrators, patients, living donors and families of deceased donors to name a few. She also visited a wide array of sites including public and private hospitals, morgues, dialysis centers, eye banks and police stations. What she discovered was a system, overwhelmingly racist, classist and sexist, benefiting those at the top while exploiting those on the fringes of society. She also uncovered a bizarre dichotomy between elite, technologically advanced transplant clinics and the slums and shantytowns from whence the organs came.
Scheper-Hughes explains the shift in ideology regarding the human body in economic terms. As demands for organ transplant operations increased, so did the need for suitable organs, thus reducing the human body and its parts to be viewed as an economic commodity. She reports of impoverished donors in India and Brazil willing to sell a “spare” kidney and of wealthy patients willing to pay thousands of dollars for a new heart. Not surprisingly, she notes that this trade in organs follows modern routes of capital—from South to North, Third to First World, non-whites to whites, female to male. She challenges neo-liberal values of individual autonomy by asserting that those living under the yoke of certain capitalist systems are not, in fact, even the owners of their own bodies and that any market value placed on body parts exploits the desperation of the poor.
Integral to Scheper-Hughes’ study is the role of rumor in the debate over the organ trade. Widely circulated among the impoverished, rumors of the atrocities committed for the procurement of organs are, according to Scheper-Hughes, not only partially grounded in fact but also serve as their only defense against these perpetrators.
She concludes that in order for organ harvesting and distribution to be fair, equitable, ethical and just, certain institutions must be in place, namely guidelines and laws protecting the rights of donors and democratic states in which human rights are guaranteed.
In response to critiques of her article, Scheper-Hughes offers little revision but much defense of her assessment and research methods. Acknowledging the newer tendencies for ethnographies to veer into areas previously off-limits to anthropology, such as violence, genocide and human suffering, she defends her choice of controversial subject matter by asking whether any other discipline is more suited to evaluate human values than anthropology. She also strongly defends herself against accusations of incomplete evidence by citing the multitude of sources she personally contacted while conceding that a project as ambitious as hers “runs the risk of being too thinly spread”.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
SUSAN WHITLEY University of Idaho (Laura Putche).
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. The Global Traffic in Human Organs. Current Anthropology April, 2000 Vol. 41(2):191-224.
In Bellagio, Italy in 1995, a task force was established for the purpose of investigating worldwide allegations of abuses in organ transplant surgery and to make recommendations in this regard. Because of her related work in medical anthropology, the author of this paper was invited to join this Bellagio Task Force, which consisted of international transplant specialists and surgeons, human rights activists, and social scientists. Subsequently, an independent group called Organs Watch was formed which included Scheper-Hughes. Organs Watch has a mandate to follow up on reported abuses, to conduct research, and to make recommendations regarding the ethical, social, and medical standards surrounding tissue and organ harvesting and transplantation. The results of some of the research and reports are the basis of this essay.
Organs Watch carries out investigations in many places; however, the principal countries noted in this paper are India, China, South Africa, and Brazil. Interviews and observations are conducted in morgues, labs, police stations, prisons, and hospitals, in addition to public and private transplant clinics in both rural and urban settings. Transplant surgeons, organ brokers, nurses, hospital administrators, organ donors, organ recipients, and their families, scientists, bioethicists, and activists make up the list of interviewees. The types of tissues and organs referred to included the heart, kidneys, corneas, heart valves, and the liver.
Human organ harvesting and transplantation is discussed from many perspectives such as economy and access, discourse, religion, law, classism, racism, sexism, and in particular ethics with regard to living and dead donors. The author relates numerous cross-cultural paradigms. For example, in India, she refers to the commodification of organs by way of an organ marketplace where capitalism has made a commodity out of kidneys. Situations are cited where families endeavour to sell a so-called extra kidney to pay down debts or dowries. In China, the trafficking of organs is such that prisoners reportedly became brain dead after organ harvesting, instead of prior to. The expediting of organs may result in high financial gain for a country that can supply some of the global demand for organs. In South Africa, predominantly white males were the recipients of organs reportedly taken from deceased black individuals without permission from their families. In Brazil, compulsory tissue donation has become law, and poor individuals offering to sell so called non-vital organs have reportedly placed ads in newspapers. An international mantra is repeated that there are not enough organ donors to supply the so called long waiting lists. Organs Watch reveals how the wealthy recipients seem to make it to the top of the lists especially when the private sector is involved.
Most commentators applaud the author’s participation in such an exceptional project. Some speculate the very approach she took has potentially changed the face of anthropology. One refers to it as engaged anthropology versus applied, while another calls it a manifesto for future anthropologists. Some question how complete the information gathered could have been due to the multiple sites involved. The harshest criticism comes from one commentator who concluded that the article relays poor ethnographic fieldwork, few interviews, limited evidence based on published literature, is more journalistic than ethnographic, and provides too little information about the Bellagio Task Force.
Scheper-Hughes concedes this project represents a somewhat novel application of anthropology and by virtue of the size and nature of the topic, it remains an ever educational and ongoing endeavour. In response to her critics, she emphasizes the project was collaborative in approach and insists an ethnographic methodology was applied. Every site mentioned (with the exception of Turkey) was assigned a hands-on fieldworker, and interviews were conducted with as many informants as possible when and wherever feasible. The author makes no apologies for incorporating journalistic input and published literature. She describes this paper as a reflexive essay noting data was not deficient (though much was removed in the editing process) but acknowledges research is continuing. She further provides a complete list of all members of the task force.
GRETA TRODD Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Shanklin, Eugenia. Representation of Race and Racism in American Anthropology.Cultural Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(1):99-104.
Shanklin notes that American Anthropology, the “whitest of professions” still has a long way to go in assuming the lead in fighting racism. We fail to take a stance on understanding racism or being active in public discussions of racism; she suggests some new approaches. Of fifteen sociocultural anthropology texts analyzed and categorized based on race and racism, five are fair assessments of these, four do not even mention race or racism, and the other six denied the existence of biological races, choosing instead to focus on ethnicity. Social consequences of racial or ethnic divisions are not mentioned and biological race is usually never associated with racism. Some texts switch the stance on race and racism with each new printing. Physical anthropology fails to bridge the gap between the effects of race and racism on a sociocultural level, as does archaeology, when explaining the reason behind the different social structures that existed in early states.
In the seventies the no-race view prevailed due in part to abandonment of the four-discipline anthropologist, enabling avoidance of the issue. No matter the reason, few sociocultural texts address this subject, and those that do were published in the eighties, making our discipline look ignorant. Shanklin feels that it is a shame that anthropologists are opting out when the world is so involved in this subject matter. The books have unfortunately forgotten Boas’ example of participating in ongoing intellectual debates on the nature of race and racism. Out of 460 books evaluated, only 1/5 of them discussed racism in a credible manner.
Shanklin argues that we cannot continue to substitute physical description with racial designation. In some cases, ancient finds fit no modern existing racial group. It becomes necessary for us to continue to aide forensics with new terms that are non-offensive and flexible as the definition of racial language is always changing. We must constantly defend racial diversity and biologically inherited genes (sickle cell for example) due to others twisting our own meanings in perverse ways. This is why we must use the media to educate America about these subjects.
We need to rewrite our introductory texts and reevaluate the way we present ourselves to the media as anthropologists. We are in better positions than other social scientists to bridge this gap of understanding of race and racism. We should focus more in the classroom on breaking down racism into its parts, understanding how it came to be and reverting back to supporting Boas in subverting racism.
Shanklin tries to reunite the anthropological community in a revival of communicating to America the meaning of race and racism and the effects they have on the structures of America. She reminds us that it is to our benefit to take an active position and tell America where we stand. We need to begin this at the entry level of our profession and we need to become more active in public debates and discussions. Of the 460 plus books on anthropology she has evaluated and researched she found nearly 80% of them to be unsatisfactory in the discussion of race and racism and, suggests we refocus our efforts.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
TIMMOTHY GARRISON University of Idaho (Laura Putche)
Shanklin, Eugenia. Representations of Race and Racism in American Anthropology.Current Anthropology February, 2000 Vol.41(3): 99-103.
Anthropologists are well known for their understanding and compassionate views on race and racism. Eugina Shanklin, however, claims that American anthropologists currently have taken a step back on the issues. She claims that anthropologists today deliver messages on how to prevent racism and understand race, but fail to write about it in introductory textbooks. In the current study Shanklin presents evidence that suggests that anthropological writing about these topics seems to be declining in introductory textbooks. She also discusses some new approaches on how to teach race and racism and believes that communication is the key. Lastly, she discusses how American anthropologists have made important contributions to debates that influence society and its public politics.
Shanklin scanned fifteen different introductory textbooks and only five of the books had a good discussion on race and racism. The other ten books that she reviewed, four of them did not even discuss race or racism at all. The other six books denied race as an important topic and gave confusing definitions and examples for it. She noted that in many of the books the term “ethnicity” was used instead of race but it was not anymore well defined than race. She found that some of the books had chapters about race, but then in newer editions those chapters had been eliminated.
Shanklin notes the reason why race and racism do not appear in introductory textbooks is because they are not being taught properly. She believes that this generation of anthropologists is not stressing race and racism like it was taught in past generations. She believes that anthropologists should be teaching American opinions of “whiteness and blackness” and should consider racism as the “American disease” (103).
Lastly, Shanklin believes that anthropologists have made important contributions to the category of race and racism. She notes that sometimes the media misinterprets anthropologists and sometimes their messages get turned upside down. She claims that there are not enough accurate representations of anthropology to counter the bad press that anthropologists have been attracting. She notes that they have their work cut out for them in trying to repair their image and believes a good start will be by being critics of race and racism in the press.
TRICIA VELTRI Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Shennan, Stephen. Population, Culture History, and the Dynamics of Culture Change.Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41 (5):811-835.
Shennan presents an approach for explaining culture change that recalls the culture history roots of archaeology and draws from Darwinian evolutionary theory of the biological sciences. This approach is a response to processualist and postprocessualist trends in archaeological theory since the 1960s. With processualism, Shennan questions the elevated importance placed on adaptation to the environment as a cause for culture change as well the assumption of culture change having occurred in situ. With postprocessualism, which emphasizes the social meaning artifacts communicate, he sees its utility as an explanation of culture change limited to state and other complex societies. While acknowledging these as potential avenues for interpreting the archaeological record, he suggests that population size played the most significant role affecting the spatial and temporal differences observed of material culture. Specifically, the size of a population will influence the transmission of culture from one generation to the next.
Culture change is viewed as the product of an imperfect inheritance system that he suggests is best understood through the concept of descent with modification. As population expansion or contraction can variously effect the transmission of genetic material from one generation to the next, so is it considered likely to influence the transmission of cultural traits through subsequent generations. To test this in the archaeological record, culture history is applied to establish a clear and detailed chronology of occupation through time and space. While developing cultural sequences is considered largely a descriptive exercise, it gives the necessary resolution to test the potential effects population fluctuations have on cultural transmission. A detailed chart plotting periods of settlement and abandonment is important for mapping change through time to prevent interpretive errors associated with generalized cultural sequences that mask periodic fluctuations. Dendrochronological dates from cultural deposits are used to achieve this.
The relationship between population and culture change is tested using a cultural sequence outlined for late Neolithic occupation in Central Europe that was defined on seriation and radiocarbon dates. Shennan examines tree-ring dates from occupations and notes there were “irregularities” in duration of occupation and site abandonment. He interprets these as indications of population contraction and expansion. The previous sequence based on radiocarbon dates smoothed out population fluctuation and presented a picture of in situ cultural development of one tradition to another. However, tree-ring dates highlight breaks in settlement and raise the point that one group had abandoned the area before being resettled by another.
In reply to criticisms, Shennan does note that certain areas could be more fully addressed to make his argument more thorough. For instance, he had simplified the Darwinian evolutionary approach by glossing over analogous and homologous lineages. Further, an incorporation of the approach would benefit agency and practice theories. However, he does believe that the short-term processes of cultural transmission that critics contend are only observable in ethnographic studies are applicable to the larger time scale presented in the archaeological record through pursuing population studies.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
JENNIFER HAMILTON University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Shennan, Stephan. Population, Culture History, and the Dynamics of Culture Change. Current Anthropology December, 2000 Vol.41 (5):811-835.
Explaining culture change through the spatial and chronological variation in material culture has been a major goal of Anglo-American archaeology. The most important factor when examining at culture change in non-state societies is population dynamics. This is because populations were more dynamic and interacted with each other more than it is assumed. This view uses the migration and diffusion theories of processual archaeology of the 1960’s and 1970’s while adding a more Darwinian evolutionary perspective. The population dynamics of culture will influence the process of cultural evolution through the various processes of “descent with modification” made to that population. This theory developed because of the advances made in dating methods and genetic information, which put more accurate times on events, and explained the genetic revolution of an area. These are termed high resolution chronologies.
The example used in this study is the Alpine Neolithic, where the lakeside settlements shifted in initial appearance but remained the same culture as seen in later earthwork enclosures, ceramic forms, and the copper items which indicate long distance trading. After 2500 B.C. the lakeside settlements disappeared until the Early Bronze Age. The settlement patterns seen here are not a good example of simply lake edge flooding and drying patterns because many of them are regional, as evident in the pollen and history of the local woodlands evidence. Specifically, the dendrochronological tree felling dates in addition to the ceramic inventories indicate that only the Horgen culture was present in this area, and shifted in appearance because of new forms of settlement in response to adaptation in the region. This suggests that expansion and fission processes fit this example, and therefore the “descent with modification” model.
One major criticism of Shennan’s article is that it cannot see the forest for the trees; the forest cannot be understood if the individual trees are not looked at in detail. Cowgill further remarks that the emphasis on the biological aspects of a culture is disturbing, as it appears that science is attempting to solve issues concerning social phenomena. Another criticism is that if this theory is to be proven it should hold true in an ethnographic context. If it does not, which Gosden feels is unlikely then the culture in question is not created and maintained by the same processes of transmission and inheritance.
Shennan agrees with Cowgill’s criticism that individual description is important in analysis, and indicates that another paper will do just this. The response to Gosden is less positive. Shennan counter argues that archaeological time is much more broad than that of ethnographic therefore time; the former is created and maintained by different rules than visible today.
LIANNE STOOSHNOFF Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Soffer, O.; Adovasio, J.M.; Hyland, D.C. The “Venus” Figurines; Textiles, Basketry, Gender and Status in the Upper Paleolithic. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41 (4):511-536.
The authors’ concern in writing “Venus Figurines” is to attempt to correct the stereotypical image of European Upper Paleolithic gender roles. They do this by examining decorative imprints of perishable textile technologies through iconographic evidence displayed on the Venus Figurines that suggest the uses of textiles, basketry, and weaving. Their intention is to prove that the imprints depict clothing of plant fiber material, as well as to convey what the presence of these materials may have meant for the cultural roles of Upper Paleolithic society.
The evidence presented is that of the iconographic figurines, other remains, and ethnographic analogy. By examining multiple figurines and sherds recovered at Dolni, Pavlov and other European sites dating between 27,000 – 20,000 B.P., the authors make comparisons of textile representations of headgear, bandeaux, belts and skirts. The detailed impressions suggest the utilization of skills to braid cordage, knot netting, make baskets, weave, and join seams. In further support, the authors offer evidence of possible textile tools that began to surface at this time, including the eyed needle. They also present burial remains in which the placement and deterioration of beads suggest some type of hooded clothing.
To support the idea that textile production would have an effect on gender roles in Upper Paleolithic society, the authors look to more recent ethnographic records which infer that women have been the prime gender associated with plants, both in harvest and the construction of plant products. Symbolizing their importance within the culture, figures of women were depicted with detail in the permanent materials of ivory, fired clay and bone. With ethnographic data to support the consistency of women’s role in the processing of plants, comes the assumption that these textiles were not only worn by women but also produced by them. Importance and prestige attached to both the creator and the wearer, the use of textiles would have created a valuable labor option as well as suggest a high status role of the women who wore them, perhaps leaving the stereotypical image of a society of only brutish male hunters to stand corrected.
The main points the authors address in their reply to critique are of evidence, interpretation and context. The first question is of detail and whether or not it is really present. The authors assure that it is, although its often only evident to those experienced in perishable materials and who have viewed original evidence first hand. Cast replicas and photographs available to the public often do not do the evidence justice, and only by close examination do they show the detail of which they speak.
The use of cross-cultural comparisons to associate women with the use of textiles was also questioned. The authors acknowledge problems with this but feel that large amounts of historic and prehistoric evidence that link the two are convincing. They remind the commentators that they are also using the figurines as proof of the interconnection of women and these materials.
Lastly, some believe that the authors should reconsider contextual significance as well as use more elaborate methods of statistical analysis. The authors reaffirm that there were no specific contexts in which the figurines were found and that circumstances of disposal do not always reflect use. They purposely did not use statistical manipulations for fear of homogenizing the diversity that the figurines presented.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
ALISSA NAUMAN University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Soffer, O., J.M. Advasio, and D.C. Hyland. The “Venus” Figurines. Current Anthropology August-September, 2000 Vol. 41(4):511-535.
In the article “The ‘Venus’ Figurines”, the authors studied a series of figurines and determined they indicate at least three types of “dressed female depictions.” This includes variations of “headgear, various body bandeaux, and at least one type of skirt.” They argued that the garments were made with plant fibers and their “exquisite detailing reflects the important role played by textiles in the Upper Paleolithic Culture.” Following that line of thought, they attempted to understand the body adornments on “Venus” figurines better through the prism of perishable technology of weaving and basket making. Accordingly, they were able to hypothesize that clothing depictions might reflect items of woven and plaited clothing.
The article is divided into several sections that explain the research. Soffer, Advasio and Hyland begin by explaining weaving and basketry in the Upper Paleolithic, from which they studied thirty-six textile impressions from fired and unfired clay recovered from sites. They conclude that they were “clearly made from plant rather than animal fiber” (513). Included is a table outlining the type of technology used for each fiber and how it was made, thus concluding to two questions: How were they produced and what was their function? And, Who made them and used them?
Following the research summary, the article then attempts to answer these questions by presenting various evidences on the topics of the portrayal of the human body, the garments found on the figurines, and women’s work in the Upper Paleolithic. In these sections the reader is presented with archaeological evidence based on observation and study of the Paleolithic depictions of females in figurines. The focus is primarily on studies conducted by other researchers as support for the statements and the conclusions drawn.
Based on the evidence provided the authors believe that Paleolithic women made and wore a wide variety clothes. With this evidence the association of textiles and basketry with Venus figurines, we enter into an interpretation of female roles in Paleolithic society. They conclude that “a variety of roles were available to social females in addition to gender-based ones and that these roles were likely associated with achievements through female labor and/or age or status” (525).
In the conclusion, we have the comments from other scholars. According to the authors the comments can be divided into three categories: Some “focus on evidentiary issues, others emphasize interpretations, implications or context, and several have both data questions and theoretical concerns.” (531)
ALLISON STATEN Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Srinivas, M. N. Ex igni renascimur: The Remembered Village and Some Thoughts on Memory Ethnography. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(2):163-168.
In this work M. N. Srinivas recounts the process of writing The Remembered Village. In 1976 the author wrote The Remembered Village based on two seasons of fieldwork in 1948 and 1952 in Rampura. The ethnography was based entirely on the memory and recollections of the author due to the loss of his field notes and research in a fire. The 1969 fire was the result of campus unrest at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science at Stanford and due to a series of unfortunate events all three copies of the author’s research notes were in the same location at the time of the fire. The loss of research materials forced the author to approach his book from the perspective of memory rather than from a traditional research perspective. Within days of the fire Srinivas began the process of recollecting his experiences and creating a remembered text of information. There was some attempt to repair the remaining fire damaged notes however Srinivas limited his use of the repaired materials in an effort to maintain the essence of his memory. Through this process The Remembered Village became a general account of village life rather than a problem-oriented monograph. The author indicated that many of his research decisions were based on personal criteria that did not reflect an objective perspective. The author’s personality and social position determined where and with whom he was to live and conduct his research. Through the use of memory, the author developed a highly reflexive work that includes the personality of the researcher. Srinivas concluded that personal recollections are useful tools for researchers and can lead to holistic ethnography. The author indicated that The Remembered Village was critiqued for a lack of theoretical orientation, and Srinivas responded that the work was simply a description of village life and not intended to support any theoretical framework. The Remembered Village is a unique ethnography that relied on the memory of the ethnographer, and as a result, has an integrated perspective of one person’s experience of life in Rampura.
JULIE-ANNA RODMAN University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Srinivas, M. N. Ex igni renascimur: The Remembered Village and Some Thoughts on Memory Ethnography. Current Anthropology April, 2000 Vol.41(2):163-168.
This article describes the process of creating a book solely from memories of fieldwork. Srinivas clearly explains the process involved with creating material for publication when the sources are not available, thus creating an entire ethnography from memory.
The author describes the experience of having his field notes destroyed in a fire, and being faced with having to then write a book without his primary sources. He describes the process, beginning with random thoughts, words, and bits of conversation, which were then elaborated into themes. He also discusses his difficulties with timelines, leading to the eventual use of a dictaphone and the interactions with non-academics that followed. The interest generated by his drafts, and these interactions with “normal” people caused him to write for a lay audience rather than for anthropologists.
Srinivas also reminisces about his time spent doing fieldwork in rural India. He discusses the duality of being educated and being Brahmin, being the observer and also being observed, and compares this to writing from memory versus using field notes. He also discusses his initial motivations regarding the location and practice of doing his fieldwork, including the expectations of both the villagers and the headman of the village. The results of Srinivas’ memory ethnography approach provide a detailed portrait of village life and his experiences there, and are less academic, targeted more towards the general reader than the intellectual.
Critics of his book suggest that it was absent of theory and failed to develop key ideas. Srinivas responds, stating that his objective was to write what he remembered, not to support a theory or develop a theme. Further critics questioned his motivation for distancing himself from the village in the book. Supporters of the book praise its readability and illustration of the author’s relationship with the villagers.
In response to the critics, Srinivas suggests that this is a factor of caste society, of which he was a hereditary member of the Brahmin class, an educated landowner. This naturally distanced him from many of the other villagers. Srinivas also explains that he believed his purpose in the village was to learn and record information, not to change the way of life.
AMBER OTKE-ROPOTAR Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Stiner, Mary C. Natalie D. Munro, and Todd A. Surovell. The Tortoise and the Hare, Small-game Use, the Broad-Spectrum Revolution and Paleolithic Demography. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41 (1):39-73,
The authors examine the utility of small faunal data in identifying population shifts during the Middle through Late Paleolithic. They argue that the types of small animals consumed changed over time and that this change correlates with an increasing population. To demonstrate this, the authors draw from Flannery’s 1969 broad-spectrum-revolution hypothesis and offer a refinement to earlier diet breadth models. Briefly stated, the hypothesis suggests a diversification of diet precedes human population growth. Diet breadth measures species diversification as the difference between high ranked and low ranked resources. The authors consider previous scales for ranking animals made diet breadth ineffective for observing population growth during this period under investigation. They offer an alternative scale for evaluating animals that should better reflect predator-prey relationship and prove to be a more sensitive indicator of population fluctuations. To illustrate this point, they examine archaeofaunal food remains from sites in Italy and Israel.
Small faunal remains from shelter sites from Israel and the western coast of Italy were examined. These occupations overlap in time from 110,000 to 11,000 B.P. and were found to have similar patterns of varying small animal use. The authors believe that previous diet breadth models overlooked the significance of this variation because of the manner in which animals were ranked. Instead of emphasizing prey animal size, the authors rank animals in terms of work of capture and their maturation rate. In regards to the former, they are considering how slow or quick an animal is as well as how many can be taken at one time. As to the latter, they are considering a species’ ability to maintain its population in light of predation. They cite studies conducted among modern prey species that do show a reduction in the average age within a population. This reduction may also correspond to a reduction in total reproducing individuals within the population. They propose intensive exploitation of a species that exceeds population replacement would result in an observable reduction in the average age, body size and population. Thus, in response to diminishing prey populations, people would likely diversify by exploiting a range of different animals.
If examining diet breadth based on prey animal size alone, then little change is observed in the proportions of small to large animals in the prehistoric human diet. However, there was a difference in the types and quantities of small animals used over time. The authors identified that slow moving tortoises and shellfish were abundant in the early cultural sequence, but later in time there was an increase in quick moving birds and hares to the diet. Further, they contend that the climate is not the reason for this. Instead, they take this shift in emphasis from slow moving, slow maturing prey species to quick moving, quick maturing ones in part because of exploitation pressure of an increasing human population.
In the authors’ reply to comments, points raised by each of the commentators are carefully taken. In short, they state their approach is not intended to identify the reasons for population growth, but is instead to identify archaeological signatures for population growth. Further, they agree that comparisons with sites from other regions needs to be conducted to consider the potential of small fauna for illuminating past human behavior.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
JENNIFER HAMILTON University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Stoffle, Richard W., Loendorf, Lawrence, Austin, Diane E., Halmo, David B., Bulletts, Angelita. Ghost Dancing the Canyon: Southern Paiute Rock Art, Ceremony and Cultural landscape. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(1):11-38.
This article focuses on the various components that help to shape or rather, construct, a cultural landscape. In particular, it documents the rock art found in Kanab Creek Canyon and its connection to a Ghost Dance ceremony performed by Southern Paiute that occurred there in the late 1800s. Along with determining whether the rock art site at was a location of a Ghost Dance, Stoffle and his colleagues were also concerned with understanding contemporary Paiutes’ perception of the site regarding their belief that the area possessed supernatural power(s), the historical significance of the site, and its significance as a sacred place in reaffirming the identity of a people (Southern Paiutes).
In order to determine whether the site was used for a Ghost Dance ceremony, the authors examined rock art and pigment and used indigenous knowledge as confirmation. It is through the combined methods of relying on oral traditions along with ethnographic data and site analysis of the rocks and pigments used that Stoffle and his colleagues set out to determine how the Kanab Canyon site was used, by whom, for what reason and both its historical and present significance to contemporary Southern Paiutes. Similar to other recognized sacred spaces, Kanab Creek is not merely a place where a ceremony happened, but it also linked Pai and Paiute people and the Ghost Dance ceremonies “. . . in social, cultural, economical, historical, geographical, ceremonial and cosmological ways. . .”
The researchers emphasized the important role emic research can have in gaining a better and fuller understanding of a site. Having the voices of the people being studied heard was an essential component in giving validity to the theories proposed. Besides the use of oral accounts, Stoffle and his colleagues used data collected and interpreted by an archeologist who specialized in rock art, and looked at the types and number of figures found throughout the site. Combined with oral testimony given by four informants, the results from data collection from the rock art, ethnographical, ethnohistorical and ethnological data from knowledge gathered about Paiute traditional culture, Stoffle and his colleagues were able to use triangulation to cross-check their findings. By presenting the reader with both the various oral testimonials as well as the data collected through scientific means, the authors were able to construct an argument for the site’s use and link it to the Paiute people.
The authors agreed with most suggestions made by those who contributed comments. While all approved of the work done by Stoffle, et al., there were suggestions made about other ways to view cultural landscapes. One of the points raised by the authors themselves was the need for placing more value on the oral histories by future anthropologists when examining other cultures and their cultural landscapes. As the authors pointed out, through their mistake of not recognizing cultural change (in regards to the “failure” of the Ghost Dance) and by quickly accepting that after 1890 the Ghost Dance was discontinued, they were not looking for examples of how the practice may have persisted afterwards. Moving beyond the traditional scholarly approach of viewing cultures “that [have] forever changed or disappeared” would allow for other important questions to arise.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
SARAH MUEHLBACH University of Idaho (Laura Putsche).
Stoffle, Richard W., Lawrence Loendorf, Diane E. Austin, David B. Halmo, and Angelita Bulletts. Ghost Dancing the Grand Canyon. Current Anthropology February, 2000 Vol.41(1):11-37.
The authors of Ghost Dancing the Grand Canyon utilized a triangulated approach to conduct their anthropologic research. They wished to integrate the Paiute people into the study of the Kaibab cultural landscape. To accomplish this, the research team consisted of Southern Paiute consultants, archaeologists specializing in rock art, and ethnographers who comparatively assessed the data. Stoffle et al. presented two hypotheses relating to the sacredness of the Kanab Creek site, both of which are directly linked to the rock art on the canyon walls.
The research team sought to provide evidence to support the association of the Ghost Dance with the Kanab Creek site. The authors present an ethnohistorical summary of the events leading to the development of the dance utilized by the Kaibab people. The evidence presented supports their premise, and included oral histories, newspaper accounts, analysis of the rock art, location of pigment associated with the paintings, and a direct comparison with known Ghost Dance sites of the Grand Canyon.
Incorporated within the relationship of the Ghost Dance is also the power associated with this sacred site. The Paiute people believe there is a relationship between shaman and the rock art. Part of the cultural belief is that all things on earth having a spirit, including rocks. Rocks are believed to have very powerful spirits, and should not be marked without religious knowledge and due purpose. It is believed that the only people capable of these markings must have great spiritual powers are shaman. The oral history of the area recognizes the canyon, as a place frequented by shaman for ceremonial and spiritual purposes one of which is the Ghost Dance.
Evidence presented in support of these hypotheses includes oral histories. In order to validate these accounts a through comparison of the written histories, the records from Edward Sapir and the recent interviews was correlated. The rate of accuracy was found to be 92% for information pertaining to the years 1956-1959. The authors have effectively presented and supported the Kanab Creek site as being a sacred ceremonial site, where the Kaibab Paiute people held their Ghost Dance
The comments that follow this article are positive, supporting the use of an integrated research team has placed an emic perspective on the cultural analysis. This triangulated team also eases a portion of the current tensions placed on cultural analysis of the etic perspective. Commentators have also suggested that this research more accurately reflects traditional Paiute ways of viewing their landscape.
The authors reply with a resounding thank you for the positive comments made in regards to their article. They express a dedication to future collaborative research in hopes of protecting and retaining access to traditional significant land. Emphasis is placed on the awareness that indigenous peoples reserve the right to disallow studies of traditional religious activities. However, there are times when the Indian people want their traditions studied and they want to participate in the how the research is conducted and explained. This indigenous input into research is critical to developing an accurate view of traditional native cultures.
CHRISTINA BAZELL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Tarlow, Sarah. Emotion in Archaeology. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(5):713-771.
This article by Sarah Tarlow addresses the use of emotion in archaeology. She discusses how emotion has been studied in the past and what approaches have been used in this study. One main problem she found with past studies was the two sides were diametrically opposed positions. Emotions have been seen as either hard-wired and genetic or a learned, social construct. A second problem is that many misunderstandings arise due to varied definitions being used. What constitutes an emotion, and what changes occur from culture to culture? Sarah Tarlow is trying to convince us that emotions are both hard-wired and learned behavior. It is the combination that determines emotion, and the study of emotion can be used in archaeology.
Several studies that explore emotion are used to support her argument. The biological approaches are marked by considering emotion as primarily genetically based due to evolutionary adaptation, and functional in the production of “behavioral homeostasis”. Culture can change the outward expression of these emotions or cause the combining of the basic emotions, but the number of basic hard-wired emotions stays the same. The social constructivist approach proposes that emotion is culturally specific and differently constituted in different cultures through myth, social practice and language. Proponents see no genetic component to emotion. A combination of both these approaches is, in Tarlow’s opinion, most probably the best approach. The genetic and the cultural combine to create the inward manifestation and the outward expression of culturally relevant emotion.
Tarlow argues that the most knowledge can be gained by the sharing of information between disciplines. The adding together of History, Sociology, Psychology and Archaeology in the study of emotion in the past will benefit all. Tarlow proposes three criteria to use in the study of emotion. 1. Emotions should be regarded as cultural as well as biological. They are not universal, and the nature of human emotion cannot be assumed a priori in any context. 2. Emotion cannot be divorced from culture meaning and social understanding, which are contextually variable. 3. Social emotional values rather than individual, subjective emotional experience may be of greater interest to archaeologists and will also be more accessible to archaeological study.
Tarlow responds to the criticism that past emotions are ultimately irretrievable, by explaining, that it does not mean the attempt to give meaning to the past should be abandoned. As to pan-human emotions Tarlow does not believe they exist. Culture determines the reaction of a person to a situation. She argues that the circumstances in the death of a child can determine the parental reaction. Is the parent responsible for the death, was the child sick, or did the sacrificial death of this child confer status on the parent. Culture can determine the reaction to death. As to empathy’s use in study of past emotion, Tarlow states that wanting to know about the past is different from wanting to experience the past, or placing ones emotions onto past people.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
JODENE GILBERT University of Idaho ( Laura Putsche).
Tarlow, Sarah. Emotion in Archaeology. Current Anthropology December, 2000 Vol.41(5):713-746.
Emotion in Archaeology begins by tediously attempting to define “Emotion” from two approaches, social constructive and biological. Tarlow does not deliver an adequate understanding of “Emotion” but, rather quite confusingly, conveys “Emotion” as even more complex as it should be. Instead of defining “Emotion” by either one of these binary opposites Tarlow suggests an approach based on the synthesis of the two. Her main argument for archaeological studies on emotion is based on her belief that emotions are what drove individuals in a variety of cultural societies to do what they had to do in their daily lives. Describing a society cannot be done without “Emotion” is her point.
Tarlow suggests even further that ethnography would be doing a disservice to a particular society if emotions were not discussed as emotions are central parts of human experience. Although, there may be resistance to studies on Emotion because of its complexity and the fact that emotions are subjective. A particular event may produce a variety of emotions from a variety of different individuals. Its usefulness and how it could be studied scientifically, as well as structured by strict methodology, is also questionable.
Commentators enjoyed Tarlow’s perception on emotion in Archaeology. Her article is regarded as “interesting” and “supportive”. Tarlow also inspired Hakan Karlsson from the University of Lund in Sweden to consider studies of emotion research in Archaeology not in such a way as to reach meanings in emotion of the past but to the study our emotional reactions to the past.
Tarlow appreciates the challenging dialogue from her commentators. She is aware of her own challenge in trying to express her position regarding emotion in Archaeology and feel supported by the interdisciplinary reactions.
GINGER JACK Okanagan University College (Diana E. French).
Weeratunge, Nireka. Nature, Harmony, and the Kaliyugaya. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(2):249-268.
This article touches on the seeming misuse of the concepts of “harmony” and “nature”. Throughout anthropological research, many use the terms harmony and nature as understood by the typical westerner: harmony is inherent within nature, which is a separate entity from that of the human species. In other words, humans are separate from nature, often thought to be above it. Nature is just as often thought to be an example of harmony. Furthermore, indigenous peoples and cultures of many underdeveloped countries, being that they are perceived to be closer to the actual works of nature than the typical westerner, are thought to live more “in harmony with nature.” Yet, as the author explains, when one of these indigenous peoples is asked about living in harmony with nature, quite a different answer is given.
The author uses the example of the Kaliyugaya, a belief by the people of Sri Lanka that we are living in a state of chaos, of disintegration, a descending phase where humans are full of vise. Nature, in their eyes, is in disorder. This belief of a period of “dis-harmony,” if you will, is probably not held by most of the western world. But why, the author asks, should everyone conform to the western ideology that nature is always to be in harmony? It would be immoral to assume that these and other peoples should adopt our western perspective.
The problem discussed here is laid out threefold: First, epistemologically, how could one operationalize “living in harmony”? In other words, how could one define living in harmony such that it could be measured? Secondly, whose definition should we use? And can one person’s operational definition be used to rate another? Finally, if these first two problems could be solved, we would be forced to ask the question “has any society of people really ever been living in harmony?” The western world attempts to operationalize “living in harmony” as measuring the carrying capacity, population growth, and how much pollution is produced. The Sri Lankans, on the other hand, do not have a single word for harmony, as per the western definition. “The point is,” as stated by the author, “that ultimately valorization of harmony, order, conflict, and disorder is based on one’s worldview.” And because we all have different worldviews affected by our individual societies and cultures, we cannot and should not force our individual views and perspectives on others. This is one of the biggest problems in the world today, especially in the court of global sustainability.
In response to critiques by other authors, Weeratunge states that an anthropologist needs to use an emic perspective. She chooses to keep terms loosely defined in order to keep them more boundless and open to interpretation. In using quotation marks with each of these said terms, she reminds the reader of their “indefinite and contested nature of their meanings”. She chose, in particular, to analyze the term kaliyugaya because it is was the only term which showed up in her rural field work that was relevant to the juxtaposition of the western term harmony.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
LUCAS LITTLEFIELD University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Wilson, Richard A. Reconciliation and Revenge in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(1):75-98.
“ Reconciliation and Revenge in Post-Apartheid South Africa” addresses the disparity between state law and customary law. South Africa’s post apartheid government has set forth to create a “culture of human rights” and has appointed a Human Rights Commission (HRC) and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to help resolve injustices incurred during the apartheid system. The focus on human rights directs retribution away from disciplinary punishment and towards peaceful reconciliation by promoting forgiveness of the wrongdoer. This idea clashes with the local level of justice, which seeks to impose punitive judgments on offenders. Traditional local courts tend to make offenders pay both monetarily and physically for their crimes. The underlying flaw within the new government’s new judicial plan may be that it does not address local customs and beliefs of justice.
The author uses his fieldwork as a basis for his description of local opinions of the post apartheid situation, but also refers to other anthropologists’ theories and conclusions throughout the paper.
Legal pluralism is thoroughly discussed in the article. Cultural historians and anthropologists often disagree about the existence of more than one legal system in a single political unit. Anthropologists find the term useful because it proposes that state law is not central to societal organization and that social norms may perform functions similar to laws. The author suggests a synthetic view that shows the interactions between local and state level administrators, and how pursuing their own interests results in overlapping jurisdictions.
The article begins with a detailed description of legal pluralism, as well as the opponents, different views, and benefits of legal pluralism. It then transitions into legal change in the new post-apartheid government, which in turn, leads to the introduction of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The article describes the purpose and methods of the TRC and also discusses the impact on both the victims of apartheid as well as the perpetrators. Finally, the author uses one example of a township court and its means for serving justice within its community, which, as mentioned above, involves punitive and restorative judgments.
The author’s reply to the various comments consists of simply reiterating and emphasizing much of what he had explained previously in his article. The second part of the reply was a description of new developments in South Africa since the article was written. Mainly, he focused on the fate of township courts and the increased acceptance of human rights concepts on the local level.
DESIREE SWENSON University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Wilson, Richard A. Reconciliation and Revenge in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Rethinking Legal Pluralism and Human Rights. Current Anthropology February, 2000 Vol.41 (1): 75-100.
Wilson’s article focuses on the post-apartheid human rights issue in South Africa. The first part defines and discusses legal pluralism; “ a descriptive term and analytical concept which attempts to address the existence of more than one legal system in a single political unit”(76). Only one law governs South Africa and as such, Wilson argues that the colonial system remains somewhat unchanged as a result. There are arguments both for and against the existence of dual law systems, or colonial law and customary law. One argument is that colonial rule remains unchanged when there is only one legal system.
Wilson’s main focus is on the effects of the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) and it ‘s connection to the law and society. As he states, “ South Africa’s first post-apartheid government, led by the African National Congress (ANC), has embarked upon a nation-building project consciously predicated upon the creation of a culture of human rights” (76). As such the article presents various examples that have recently occurred in an attempt to justify and reconcile some of the tragic events that have occurred in the past through the TRC.
The two parts consist of “ (1) adductive affinities, the close associations between the TRC’s understanding of reconciliation as forgiveness and the religious values of victims and local churches, and (2) relational discontinuities, the divergence of human rights ideas from local court formulations of justice, which emphasize vengeance and punishment” (78). Essentially the article concludes but reiterating that human rights issues and religious notions of redemptions are strongly related in current South Africa suggesting that the post-apartheid resolutions will occur through both of these outlets. Legal pluralism thus has become a means to attach the state to the society and as Wilson proves, this is a valuable unison.
STACEY SCHILLER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)
Wilkie, Laurie A. and Kevin M. Bartoy. A Critical Archaeology Revisited. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41(5):747-778.
Wilkie and Bartoy use this article to address their perceived shortcomings of the “Annapolis School” branch of critical theory in the field of archaeology. The authors believe that this branch stresses the forces that shape people’s lives rather than the people who create these forces and the individuals who are controlled by the forces. Wilkie and Bartoy opine that the Annapolis School followers tend to ignore important and basic concepts such as ideology, capitalism, and class. In doing so these followers disregard the origins of these systems of thought. They quite clearly lay out their goals for the paper, which include: 1) to demonstrate how critical theory can potentially address fundamentals of human agency better than they are presently doing, 2) to review the roots of critical theory, and 3) to provide a case study that displays their views of critical theory.
The authors critique many of the archaeologists in the Annapolis School and explain how their research has specifically ignored many of the origin-oriented questions that they believe should be the basis of critical theory. They delve into Leone’s work in Colonial Williamsburg, and how Leone argues that the black workers’ role as subservient to white workers has been relatively unchanged because of the tendency for capitalist social relations to be seen as the way things are and how they will always be. Wilkey and Bartoy contend that one should not accept reality as unchangeable, and that the archaeologists should take into consideration the fact that people are cognizant of their condition, and can and will change their circumstances if they became aware of another, more viable option. This thinking is at the core of the authors’ concern with the critical theory school; it has developed into a “top-down” model of social change that minimizes the individual’s role in social formation.
Wilkey and Bartoy present a short history of critical theory and how much of the inspiration should be attributed to Kant, Hegel and the materialist critiques of Marx. Critical theory can trace its initial roots to Marxism and other philosophies of social formation and change that grew from Marxism in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Wilkey and Bartoy use a case study from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s to explain the transition an African American sharecropper family went through after the father’s death. The end result was the daughters working for the wealthy white plantation family and learning the trappings of a successful capitalist existence. The lesson learned from this study, according to the authors, was that capitalist societies could lead to the destruction of traditional forms of life.
Many of the comments praised the authors for using a solid case study that is illustrative enough to help the reader understand the African-American’s family situation. Others lift their paper up as a prime example of where critical theory should progress in archaeology. However, others offer problems with Wilkie and Bartoy and their interpretation of their colleague’s research. These critics matter-of-factly say the authors are simply mischaracterizing the people they are critiquing.
ROBERT C. STOUT University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Yang, Mayfair Mei-Hui. Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place: Economic Hybridity, Bataille, and Ritual Expenditure. Current Anthropology 2000 Vol. 41 (4):477-510.
This a great article for those interested in economic systems, and capitalism/anticapitalism especially. Yang is attempting to look at the Chinese Wenzhou’s ritual expenditure, and the North American ritual potlatch as an answer to capitalism in both its global and consumer forms. She claims that these rituals are a form of “consumer-ritual economy hybrid,” and not a form of pure capitalism. These rituals help to find a way to overcome what she seems to see as problems with capitalism and communism, because they emphasize consumption and not production.
In these rituals people attempt to gain prestige by giving away or destroying their material goods, whereas both capitalism and communism see this as a waste of goods. Yang claims that the people of Wenzhou are driven to produce high amounts of material goods, but only so they can then give up, or spend, those goods on extravagant rituals (funerals, boat parades, etc). Similarly, the Kwakw’wakw tribe used a ritual to gauge prestige within the tribe; hence the tribal members where driven to accumulate great amounts of possessions, so that they could then show their contempt for material goods by destroying or giving them all away in a ritual potlatch. It seems, then, that these two cultures keep the deep drive of capitalism to produce, but disallow a person’s ability accumulate large amounts of goods (because they have to give it out to the community).
Furthermore, Yang states that many people have said groups like those in Wenzhou are capitalists, but she claims this is a misunderstanding of the culture. These groups are in fact a hybrid of consumer capitalism and early traditions. This hybrid acts not as capitalism penetrating the tradition as most western thinkers assume, but as capitalism and the tradition penetrating each other. She uses the example of heterosexual intercourse for the first concept and male homosexual intercourse as the second. Her view, then, seems to indicate that these groups are not an example of capitalism taking over, but mixing and matching with the traditions to create a hybrid economy.
Two interesting commentators are Zhou and Rofel who make the point that in Wenzhou the material goods are not necessarily distributed to the whole community, but usually only among the same social class. Rofel warns that Yang might be utilizing a “romantic anticapitalism” in claiming to have found an equal system of ritual economy. Yang’s response is that she knows that this system will create “unequal relations,” but that it still acts as a challenge to the “power order” of global capitalism and its view of itself. She gives a few examples to support the “unequal relations,” and answers them with examples of how others than the wealthy can gain prestige (priesthoods, diviners, lineage managers, etc.).
CLARITY RANKING: 5
DANIEL HANSEN University of Idaho (Laura Putsche)
Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui. Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place. Current Anthropology August-October, 2000 Vol.41(4):477-509.
Mayfair Yang, through this article, hopes to “move the analysis of capitalism in a new theoretical direction”(477). Yang is a proponent of J.K. Gibson-Graham’s suggestion that there should be a “theoretical move away from a model of monolithic global capitalism and notions of one-way “penetration” of capitalism”(477). Yang also believes that more attention should be given to the idea of the “hybridity of economies”, as this idea can be used in the critique of market and command economies. Yang’s main argument is that “indigenous economies are not always plowed under with the introduction of capitalism but may even experience renewal and pose a challenge to capitalist principles, stimulating us to rethink existing critiques of capitalism”(477).
Yang uses Wenzhou, located on the southeast coast of China, as a case study to illustrate that capitalism is not a monolithic entity that alters every system it encounters. Through the case study, Yang shows that “Wenzhou’s ritual economy harbors an archaic economic logic which is subversive of capitalist, state socialist and developmental-state
principles”(477). To help formulate her argument, Yang borrows from the ideas espoused by Mikhail Bakhtin, Jean Baudrillard and most importantly Georges Bataille. Bataille’s critique of capitalism focuses on consumption as opposed to production. Bataille believes that in archaic societies, non-productive forces took priority over production. As well, these societies were driven by a need to “escape the order of things” through consumption in the form of excess of generosity, display and sacrifice” (482). This type of consumption allowed these societies to “avoid the deadly hand of utility and to restore some of the lost “intimacy” of an existence without a separation between the sacred and profane”(482).
Yang points out that in post-Mao Wenzhou, a new economic era combining the household and market economy along with Western capitalist practices has revitalized the folk economy, which was nearly destroyed during the Maoist era. The revival of the folk economy in Wenzhou is the result of the considerable economic development in the region. Wenzhou’s prosperity is often criticized because of its participation in a folk economy, in which the people of Wenzhou are seen to be dissipating their assets on archaic activities. The consensus in Wenzhou, though, is that the accumulation of
wealth is good, but “one must also display the generosity and bravado to squander it in the community for prestige”(479). Wasting material wealth in ritual behaviour challenges the idea of capital accumulation and is seen as “wasteful, backward, ignorant and dangerous”, because it impedes economic change and growth (489).
Yang’s article was regarded as an interesting and “thought-provoking” article containing useful ethnographic work. However, Feuchtwang and Sangren are unsure of her use of Bataille and Baudrillard as opposed to Marx. Feuchtwang, Rofel and Zhou question if Yang’s article has enough “empirical evidence to conclude that the ritual economy is subversive of capitalism or the state”(506). As well, Perry and Maurer compare Gatsby’s consumption in The Great Gatsby to the ritual consumption occurring in Wenzhou.
In response to the comments on her article, Yang thanks the individuals whose comments were constructive. She is also pleased that Wang, who is familiar with “ritual life” in Fujian, as no serious issues with her work. In response to the comments made by Feuchtwang and Sangren, Yang points out that Marx devised his arguments in the 19th century when the focus of capitalism was on “production, accumulation and rationalization” (505). This focus is not found in either archaic or contemporary capitalist societies. In regard to the comments made by Feuchtwang, Rofel and Zhou, Yang agrees “about the paucity of empirical knowledge”, but states that conducting fieldwork in China can be a difficult task (506). Yang does not, however, agree with Perry and Maurer that “Bataille’s ritual expenditure can be found in The Great Gatsby” because Gatsby’s comsumption “did not divert resources from capitalist production toward alternative faiths” (506).
CHRISTA TAYLOR Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)