161-180 of 202 Results

Article

Catherine Alexander and Joshua Reno

In line with rising public and policy concern about wastes, there has been a distinct rise in scholarly analyses of these and other developments associated with economies of recycling, focusing especially on people’s material and moral encounters with reuse. These range from nuanced investigations into how lives and materials can both be re-crafted by recovering value from discards; following an object through its many social lives; or focusing on a material such as plastic or e-waste and tracking how waste is co-produced at each stage of creation and (re)use. Examining contested property rights in wastes, together with the infrastructures and ethics of engagements with wastes and their recovery or otherwise, reveal how global economies intersect with a rapidly shifting policy environment and systems of waste management. The global entanglement of policies and practices not only shapes what becomes of waste but also how it is variously imagined as pollutant or resource.

Article

Alessandro Monsutti

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article. Refugees are understood as forcefully displaced people who flee conflict in their country of origin in search of safety in another country. Their international legal status is defined by the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention complemented by the 1967 Protocol. To be recognized as a refugee, an individual must fulfill three conditions: fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; having crossed an international border and being outside his or her country of nationality; and having lost the protection of the country of origin. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a mandate to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to some 20 million refugees, according to 2016 figures, and to promote the three solutions to their problem: voluntary repatriation in the country of origin; integration into the first country of asylum; resettlement in a third country. The more than 5 million Palestinian refugees fall under another set of texts and are supported by a separate agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This body of international legal texts and practices has triggered the emergence of a whole set of studies in the social sciences. This new and distinctive field of research was further institutionalized when the Refugee Studies Centre was established in 1982 at the University of Oxford and when the Journal of Refugee Studies was launched a few years later. Anthropologists have played a significant role in these developments. Many have worked closely with humanitarian organizations assisting refugees on the ground, while many others have critically addressed the conceptual background of the notion, with its supposed state-centric and sedentarist bias, according to which solutions are found when movements stop. Refugees represent a practical and theoretical challenge for anthropology. Indeed, the figure of the refugee has been analyzed as a categorical anomaly that disrupts the functionalist idea that societies form coherent sets anchored in discrete territories. Is the refugee a distinct social type with specific protection needs, or does it result from a bureaucratic label that comes with potentially alienating consequences? Some authors insist that refugee studies have imported uncritically the legal and humanitarian terminology of governments as well as international and nongovernmental organizations. Some others consider that theory and practice should inform each other. This debate may call into question any sharp distinction between applied and fundamental research. Refugees are a field of study for anthropologists, but they also represent an opportunity for jobs. If there is little doubt that anthropology might inform the way refugees are assisted, a fundamental question is also how engagement with humanitarian action and post-conflict reconstruction will affect anthropological practice as well as theory. While 85 percent of the world’s forcefully displaced people are in developing countries, the so-called European refugee crisis of 2015 has attracted much attention. Among the many topics addressed in the first decades of the 21st century, let us mention the social meaning of the legal notions of asylum and refuge; refugees living in camps and so called self-settled refugees in urban centers; return; strategies developed by the people labeled as refugees and their capacity to respond to the situation they face; the long-term process of cultural adjustment; and memory of the country of origin and feeling of belonging.

Article

Religious stances toward moral economy have long provided important resources for critical reflection on economic life. When religious institutions seek to build alternatives to existing economic systems and financial practices, however, they also encounter a range of problems. In contrast to many secular critiques of economics, religious ones tend to be explicit about both their moral directives and the ontological assumptions on which they are grounded and give rise to distinctive economic habits and financial institutions. For this reason, their ethnographic study sheds light on a range of more general anthropological questions about the sources of value, the limits of rational calculation, the morality of debt, the meaning of inequality, economic justice, and the legitimate purposes of an economy.

Article

Alessandro Monsutti

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article. Remittances are monetary or social transfers made by migrants to their countries of origin, usually but not exclusively, to members of their families. They represent a significant capital flow at the international level (hundreds of billions of dollars), exceeding by far official development assistance. Remittances, as an instrument for combating poverty and fueling economic growth, have attracted an increasing interest in development studies and the social sciences in general. The question of the relationship between migration and development has gained significant visibility in the last decades and, at political and academic levels, has provoked passionate debates in which anthropologists have participated actively. Over time, the mood has fluctuated from developmentalist optimism in the 1950s and 1960s, to pessimism in the 1970s and 1980s, and once more optimistic views in the 1990s and 2000s. The post-9/11 period has seen a progressive shift again and is dominated by a securitization political rhetoric. In spite of this cyclical history, the terms of the debate are well known and rather constant. On the one hand, the role of money sent by migrants to their families may be seen as an effective survival strategy, a diversification of revenue sources that increases purchasing power; it may lead to small business creation, the promotion of education, and the transfer of knowledge by return migrants bringing with them skills learned abroad. Ultimately, the possibility of remitting money back home contributes—in more sociological terms—to the establishment of transnational networks and therefore to the cohesion of kinship or residence groups despite dispersion. However, the fact that so many people—especially youth—are trying to migrate is related to a culture of dependence, while the private dimension of most transfers does not bring real collective benefits. Far from promoting social cohesion, remittances may, on the contrary, increase inequalities, as the poorest households cannot afford to send one of their members abroad. In some cases, the money that is transferred may be used to finance armed groups. These debates on the role of money and know-how sent by migrants are primarily situated within the vast literature on migration and development. Interestingly, most anthropological dictionaries and encyclopedias do not have an entry on remittances. The issue of remittances has still to acquire a fully-fledged theoretical dimension within the discipline in order to contribute to conceptual discussions on global mobility. Migrants weave multiple links throughout their lives and are often full participants in several societies at the same time. To grasp the complexity of the phenomena at stake, it might be necessary to decompartmentalize the existing categories of mobile people (asylum seekers, refugees, migrant workers, skilled professionals, international students, even tourists), recognize the non-linearity of most spatial and social trajectories, and integrate empirical studies into a more encompassing theoretical discussion.

Article

Robert Hariman, Shauna LaTosky, Michał Mokrzan, Jamin Pelkey, and Ivo Strecker

Pragmatic linguistics, discourse analysis, and the ethnography of speaking developed rapidly from the middle of the 20th century, when researchers began to be able to take ever smaller and more efficient audiovisual recording equipment to the field, and computers helped them play back, analyze, and discuss these especially rich new data with their interlocutors on location and with their colleagues at home. Part of this newly energized research was the comparative study of rhetoric—that is, of how distinctive speech practices could have persuasive effects. It soon led to the finding that specific forms of culture produce specific forms of rhetoric, as when economic horizons (hunters, herders, cultivators, etc.) provide specific metaphorical repertoires. However, a further finding took longer to emerge. It was first articulated by the rhetoric culture project, which seeks to explore not only how culture structures rhetoric but also how rhetoric structures culture. This fundamental chiasmus was initially discussed at several international conferences in Germany and the United States and has been elaborated in nine volumes of the Berghahn Books series Studies in Rhetoric and Culture (2009–2022). A key premise of Rhetoric Culture Theory (RCT) is that human beings are neither fully free nor fully determined in what they can do, and that this tension is mediated by the continual generation of discourses from the interaction between intention, convention, and performance. Stephen Tyler has provided a model for this complex process which illustrates the open-ended and emergent nature of discourse and explains how cultures, with their diverse customs, conventions, habits, and lifestyles, are self-organizing configurations continually recreated, negotiated, and changed through texts and performances. Cultural explanation is advanced through attention to processes of argument and appeal, dissonance and resonance, variation and feedback, and the like, but the results may not be objectively functional. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote de la Mancha was chosen as RCT’s icon and telling example of this rhetorically produced and potentially fantastic nature of culture. RCT is also inspired and supported by understandings of the power of the word in other (and especially non-European) cultures. An example of this is Baldambe (Father of the Dark Brown Cow), an elder from Hamar, southern Ethiopia, who provided “historic” moments where in collaboration with the ethnographer spoken words were transformed into written ones, and texts with their own distinctive features and literary style emerged as documented in a number of publications. RCT is also influenced by the tenor of its time, not least an impending climate collapse and other threats that characterize the Anthropocene. Rhetorical and cultural abundance can be part of the existential crisis and resources for renewal on behalf of equity and sustainability. Reflecting on the relationship between speech practices and deep problems can reveal how all of culture is challenged by vicissitudes that are unanticipated and that scale up disastrously, and that call up inventive answers while testing the limits of human ingenuity.

Article

Ghilraen Laue and J. Claire Dean

Rock art sites around the world are disappearing due to natural weathering, vandalism, and development. In Africa, conservation problems are compounded by the continent’s colonial legacy. Conservation can no longer just be seen in the narrow sense of conserving only the rock art; rather, there is a need for “consultative conservation” that includes the broader significance of a site and accommodates all stakeholders, including local communities. In this way, we can decolonize practices and work toward ideas for sustainable African conservation. Before embarking on conservation projects, all the values and significance of a site need to be considered. There is no point conserving an object or a site unless people find meaning in that conservation. The natural deterioration of a site can be due to exposure to the elements, rain, fluctuations in humidity and temperature, biological growth both on the art and in front of it, animal activity, wildfires, and geological and seismic activity. Human activities that degrade a site include scratching or writing of graffiti, repainting or adding details to images, water or other liquids splashed on the paintings to bring out the details, smoke from fires made in the shelters, and target practice. Some of these conservation problems can be mitigated with remedial interventions, but these require the skills of professional conservators that are often expensive and out of reach for many rock art conservation projects. Conservation through the management of sites is far more common and feasible in Africa. In working toward management practices that take all a site’s significance into account, there is a need to acknowledge and work toward undoing injustices, coercions, and exploitation in both conservation practice and legislation. Rather than seeing the conservators’ way of doing things as “best practice” to be implemented from a top-down level, local conservation practices that have worked for centuries need to be considered alongside other conservation measures. Although attempts here are made to be as inclusive as possible the authors’ experience means that the focus and many of the examples given are from southern Africa.

Article

Alexander Antonites

Salt was an important commodity throughout the human past. Although salt (sodium chloride) is essential to human health, the desire for salt in humans cannot be explained by physiological need alone. Instead, both biology and culture drive the taste for salt. The result is that salt was frequently highly valued, with its production and trade important in economic, social, and political systems of the past. Despite this importance, salt is an elusive item to study since it does not preserve well and is mostly consumed. Production sites are often the only places with any discernible remains related to salt use. However, historical and ethnographic material are rich sources of analogies of how salt was produced and traded in preindustrial societies. There are frequently large-scale similarities in traditional salt-making practices despite tremendous technological, organizational, and environmental contexts. These show that salt production technology is mostly robust and fairly simple and that salt can be made with very little investment in infrastructure. As a result, many communities with access to salt sources could be self-sufficient. In the absence of readily available salt, trade networks developed around its distribution over medium and long distances. Consequently, control over this spatially restricted resource was often an important factor in regional politics, and in several cases played an important role in the development of hierarchical systems of power. It is, however, important to discern between specialization production for trade by a small group of producers and production by multiple small-scale producers for their own use, since the archaeological remains of these two different production strategies may look very similar. As a result, archaeologists need to employ multiple lines of evidence in discerning the organization of production.

Article

Sangoan  

Nicholas Taylor

The Sangoan is a stone tool industry associated with the transition from the Early Stone Age (ESA) to the Middle Stone Age (MSA) in sub-Saharan Africa. The Sangoan overlies the Acheulean at sites including Nsongezi (Uganda) and Kalambo Falls (Zambia), and across much of Africa is the earliest technological marker for the shift from iconic Acheulean handaxes to the hafted points, blades, and smaller bifaces that characterize the MSA. Given its chronological position and status as an immediate post-Acheulean technology, the industry is pertinent to evolutionary questions about the origins of Homo sapiens in the late Middle Pleistocene. The Sangoan was named after the site of Sango Bay on the western shore of Lake Victoria in Uganda and was first described based on an assemblage of rugged tools dominated by thick, heavy-duty bifaces, choppers, and core scrapers. It was historically observed to cluster in and around the central African forest belt, but recent claims of Sangoan tools in North, West, and Southern Africa indicate that it may have a far wider distribution. These findings, along with the recovery of Sangoan artefacts in an open paleohabitat at Simbi (Kenya), have queried the long-standing association of the industry with woodland and rain forest ecosystems. Identifying and correlating Sangoan occurrences is made harder by the fact it has rarely been recovered from undisturbed archaeological contexts and it thus remains loosely defined and poorly dated. The few sites that have been dated are widely dispersed and broadly coalesce on a time frame of 250,000 to 300,000 years ago (ka BP), but these are likely to be significant underestimates. The paucity of well-stratified intact sequences that sample the Sangoan means that critical questions remain about its technological content, variability, and behavioral significance. The absence of any significant small tool component within many Sangoan assemblages has led to questions over whether this often bulky technology is suitable for hafting and whether, therefore, it may be better understood as a functional variant of the late Acheulean than as an MSA technocomplex. Recent use-wear analysis on Sangoan core axes at Sai Island (Sudan), however, has confirmed that many of the industry’s bifaces did serve as composite implements. At Kalambo Falls (Zambia), the presence of a small tool component, some with typical MSA characteristics, reinforces the Sangoan’s characterization as a mosaic technology that falls comfortably into neither the ESA nor the MSA.

Article

Dominique Desjeux

One of the particularities of applied anthropology is working on demand, and performing research on demand requires changing fields constantly. This diversity of fields has led to an awareness in applied anthropology that the focal point of observation varies from study to study, and that depending on the particular scope or decoupage, researchers do not see the same thing. This scales-of-observation method has four empirical principles: (a) What one observes at one scale vanishes at another scale. (b) The causes explaining actors’ behavior vary based on the scale of observation; they can stem from situational effects or meaning effects, or suggest statistical correlation. (c) Knowledge acquired at one scale is complementary and cumulative with that of other scales of observation. However, they cannot be fused into a single, global description. Indeed, although reality is continuous, observation between the “macro” and the “micro” is discontinuous. Discontinuity stems from the importance of the situational effects in anthropology and organizational sociology. These two approaches are most often centered on the interactions among actors operating under situational constraints. All generalizations are thus limited to scales pertaining to the same type of causality. (d) Part of the conflict among schools, disciplines, or professions regarding explanations for human behavior and changes within a community, an organization, a society, or an individual can most often be explained by different choices in the scale of observation. The scales-of-observation method is a mobile tool of knowledge founded on the anthropological practice of the cultural detour, in this case scientific cultures. It is an inductive epistemological theory on the variability of the explanatory causes of human behavior and falls under methodological relativism. Consequently, the scales-of-observation method is also a tool of negotiation among actors who are involved collectively in a project of social change, but with contradictory interests or objectives.

Article

John Parkington and Ruan Brand

Shell middens, the residues of shellfish gathering, consumption, and disposal in the past, have attracted the attention of archaeologists for more than one hundred and fifty years. Although there has been a tendency to view these sites as simply waste heaps, it is increasingly clear that this is usually not the case and that, sometimes, spatially meaningful arrangements of domestic debris of all kinds (fireplaces, artifacts, cooking and sleeping areas) are recognizable if excavations are sensitive enough. Some issues are as relevant and as intransigent as they have been from the beginning: Are they really food waste or could they be natural shell accumulations? Were people living at these sites or are they simply large piles of waste resulting from shell processing? In what ways and how fast did the middens accumulate? How are shell middens related to other archaeological sites inland, contemporary but without shell food waste? Because shell middens are found on all continents except Antarctica and throughout the Holocene time period (the last twelve thousand years), the literature on their excavation and interpretation is enormous and illustrates that archaeologists worldwide engage similarly with counting, measuring, weighing the shellfish, and associated faunal and artifactual remains from these sites. Often, the research involves developing proxies for the kinds of invisible but interesting aspects of the lives of the shellfish gatherers, such as: How many people lived here? How long did people stay at this site? Why did they come when they did and leave when they did? Where else did people live? While Holocene shell middens are ubiquitous, it is also clear that Pleistocene shell middens, while fairly widespread, are found more commonly in coastal areas where early modern humans have dispersed early in their migrations across the globe. It is likely that these traces, in Africa, in Europe, in island South-East Asia and Australia, and along the shores of western North America mark the routes whereby our earliest modern human ancestors peopled the world.

Article

Alioune Dème and Moustapha Sall

There are hundreds of shell midden sites along the Senegambian coastline. The shell middens were first formed during an eustatic event known as the Nouakchottien marine transgression (6,800–4,000 bp). During that marine transgression, the sea shoreline was pushed back hundreds of miles in the interior. This engendered the flourishing of malacological fauna and several fish species. As a result of this, several natural shell midden were formed. From the Late Stone Age to the 2nd millennium ce, populations exploited the aquatic fauna, which resulted in the formation of anthropogenic shell middens. The littoral where these shell middens are found is divided into three archaeological culture areas. Archaeological excavations at some of those sites, such as Khant and Dioron Boumak, have shed light on the nature of the material culture, subsistence activities, and the cultural history in these areas. Research at Soukouta has added new data on iron technology to understanding of the shell middens culture. These findings have also called into question the division of Senegambian prehistory into four distinct cultural areas known as aires culturelles.

Article

Sibudan  

Manuel Will

The Sibudan is a technocomplex within the cultural stratigraphy of the southern African Middle Stone Age (MSA), first formulated in 2012. The term was introduced as a working concept to organize the spatio-temporal variability in material culture among the archaeological record following the Howiesons Poort during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3; ~59–24 ka). In contrast to the more widely used name “post-Howiesons Poort” (“post-HP”)—an umbrella term resting primarily upon temporal aspects—the Sibudan possesses a formal definition based on characteristic elements of its lithic technology. The site of Sibudu, located in the eastern part of southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal), serves as type locality since it has yielded a rich and high-resolution record of modern human occupations during MIS 3. The Sibudan type sequence at Sibudu, dated to ~58 ka and encompassing twenty-three layers, features both characteristic traits and diachronic variability. The consistent techno-typological elements include predominantly local raw material procurement, concomitant use of multiple core reduction methods (Levallois, discoid, platform, and bipolar), manufacture of flake and blade assemblages, as well as soft stone hammer percussion for blades. Temporal variability exists in the proportions and morphologies of tools and unifacial points in particular—including Tongati, Ndwedwe, and asymmetric convergent tools—the presence of bifacial points, as well as the frequency of blank types and different core reduction methods. Comparative studies since 2014 suggest a spatio-temporal extension of the Sibudan in the eastern part of southern Africa during early MIS 3 (~58–50 ka), with marked differences to assemblages of similar ages along the southern coast and Western Cape. The concept is thus not a direct substitute or congruent with the “post-HP” and “Sibudu technocomplex.” On a more interpretive level, the Sibudan has featured in discussions on the trajectory of cultural evolution among early modern humans, the scale and mechanisms of behavioral change during the MSA, and theoretical debate on the relevance of technocomplexes.

Article

Kendra Calhoun

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article. Foundational linguistic anthropological theories of community, identity, and multimodality, among other topics, offer invaluable insights into communicative practices on social media. Linguistic phenomena on social media also require researchers to adapt and update these theories continually to account for the unique communicative possibilities afforded by constantly evolving digital technology. These principles were originally conceptualized before social media was an integral part of everyday life. –Like linguistic anthropological studies in in-person contexts, linguistic anthropological studies of language online vary in scope, theoretical framing, and methodological approach, depending on the central topics of inquiry. Social media may be studied within a primarily in-person ethnographic project as one of many sites of linguistic practice for members of a community in addition to (or overlapping with) contexts such as work, school, and home. Social media may also be studied as primary sites of analysis through digital ethnographic approaches, typically focused on the communication patterns within a network or community of social media users on a single platform. Linguistic anthropological perspectives on social media are necessarily interdisciplinary and informed by scholarship in related fields, including sociolinguistics, cultural anthropology, communication studies, media studies, and sociology. To this interdisciplinary understanding, linguistic anthropology contributes a unique perspective attuned to the details of linguistic structure and the ways in which language and culture are mutually constitutive.

Article

Umoloyouvwe Ejiro Onomake

Ethnography has been used to research various people and topics online, primarily using netnography and digital ethnography. Researchers and businesses employ digital ethnographic methods to access an assortment of social media platforms in order to learn about social media users. Researchers seek to understand relationships between social media users and organizations from both academic and practitioner perspectives. These organizations run the gamut from for-profit businesses, to nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and government agencies. The specific focus here is on social media research as it relates to businesses. Organizations make use of social media in a variety of ways, but chiefly to market to clients and to gather information on followers; the latter of which, in turn, helps them understand their target markets. While this social media data is both quantitative and qualitative in nature, the emphasis here centers on qualitative data, particularly the ways businesses interact with social media users. While some firms mainly use older forms of one-way marketing that solely focus on disseminating information, other firms increasingly seek ways to interact with customers and co-create products with clients. Additionally, social media users are creating their own communities, formed due to a shared interest in a brand. Companies strive to learn more about their customers through these groups. Influencers also play a role in the relationship between organizations and social media users by linking their own followerships to products and brands. In turn, influencers develop their own relationships with organizations through sponsorships, thus becoming brands themselves. Influencers risk losing their followerships when followers perceive them as no longer accessible or authentic. This change in perception can occur for a variety of reasons, including when followers believe that an influencer has prioritized brand alignment over building connections with followers. Due to multiple relationships with different brands and their followers, influencers must negotiate the ambiguity and evolving nature of their role. As social media and digital spaces develop, so must the tools used by anthropologists. Anthropologists should remain open to incorporating hallmarks of ethnographic research such as fieldnotes, participant observation, and focus groups in new ways and alongside tools from other disciplines, including market and UX (user experience) research. The divide between practitioners and academics is blurring. Anthropologists can solve client issues while contributing their voices to larger anthropological and societal discussions.

Article

Reviews of southern Africa’s Later Stone Age (LSA) have seen many different iterations. Generally, however, they summarize the technocomplex from its earliest industry until it ceases to be recognizable in the archaeological record, summarizing the variety of research topics, questions, and approaches. Binding much of this together, despite the diaspora of studies, is the use of ethnography to understand past hunter-gatherer lifeways. This resource has guided interpretations of the past and helped design research approaches since the 1970s. And yet, from as early as the 1980s, archaeologists as well as anthropologists have debated the influence ethnography plays in understanding the past. Nonetheless, without it, significantly less would be written of hunter-gatherer prehistory in southern Africa, which includes belief systems, settlement structures, mobility patterns, subsistence habits, and social relations. Using ethnography as a vehicle, it is possible to navigate the LSA pathways created by scholars and examine the aforementioned contributions this knowledge system has made to interpretations of the past. From this vantage, envisioning a future for ethnography within the field is possible. This should involve expanding the ethnographies archaeologists use, moving beyond the Kalahari Desert, creating a diverse group of LSA researchers, and decolonizing the discipline.

Article

Southern Africa has a long and rich archaeological record, ranging from the Oldowan lithics in the Sterkfontein valley and Wonderwerk Cave (about 2 Ma) to Iron Age smelting (less than one thousand years ago) in Zimbabwe. A brief overview of charcoal analyses indicates applications in such areas as dating, vegetation and climate reconstructions, fuel use, medicinal use, and the interpretation of human behavior. Some of the research done in the 20th century mainly focused on charcoal for the purpose of dating, but this has diversified in the 21st century to include other applications. The focus is on South African sites, but research from Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe is included. Southern Africa has a very diverse woody component with more than fifteen hundred species from a flora of more than twenty-five thousand species so the establishment of regional modern reference collections of charcoalified woods has been instrumental in improving identifications of the archaeological taxa. Early Middle Stone Age charcoal records show that a diversity of woody species was burned. By Middle Stone Age times, records show the selection of woods for fuel, tinder, and medicinal use as well as cooking of starchy rhizomes. Late Stone Age and Iron Age records, in addition, show the use of woods for smelting and intense fires.

Article

The Southern African Stone Age covers the longest period in human history, that is, the last three million years of human evolution and adaptation in a region south of the 18th parallel south. The region includes the countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, with a northern border marked by the Kunene River between Angola and Namibia, the Cuando River on the borders of Angola, Namibia, and Botswana, and the Zambezi River. It is divided into three main phases, known as Early, Middle, and Later Stone Age. The Early Stone Age had its beginning about three million years ago with the development of Australopithecus, found in South Africa in the region called the Cradle of Humankind. The earliest stone tools in the region were discovered in the cave of Sterkfontein and are dated to around two million years ago. These first stone tools, which include choppers, polyhedrons, and subspheroids, among other artifacts, are part of an industrial complex known as the Oldowan, which lasted for a few hundred thousand of years. It was followed by the Acheulean, known by its unique large cutting tools, the handaxes, cleavers, and picks, starting about 1.8 million years ago. During this period, species such as Homo habilis and Homo erectus/ergaster walked over southern Africa. The Middle Stone Age, starting about three hundred thousand years ago, seems to be directly associated with the emergence of a new species, Homo sapiens. This phase shows a wide cultural diversity in the region, and in fact across the whole African continent, both in time and space. This is a phase drastically marked by technological and cultural innovations, such as the use of bow and arrow, hafting, bone tools, lithic heat treatment, use of pigments, production of body ornaments such as beads, art in the form of engravings, and, finally, the systematic inclusion of shellfish and plants in the human diet. These innovations, however, were not used all in the same location. This congregation of techniques and innovations took place only during the next phase, the Later Stone Age, which started around thirty-five thousand years ago. It is likely the result of an important demographic change that occurred as a response to climatic oscillations that took place at the world level. Like the Middle Stone Age, the Later Stone Age saw an incredible range of cultural diversity in the large region of southern Africa. Traditionally, it was believed that the main differences between the Middle and Later Stone Ages were based on a dichotomy where, on one side, points and flake industries resulting from prepared cores such as Levallois were present, and on the other, simple cores producing microlithic assemblages, sometimes geometric, together with art, and beads and organic tools were present. Today, however, that simplistic contrast is known to be wrong, and the differences in cultural complexity are more a matter of concentration than innovation. The Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers were finally slowly replaced by farmers and herders and later by Iron Age populations, between twenty-five hundred years ago and the recent historical present.

Article

Alan Smart

Squatting is one of the most important forms of housing for the world’s poor, accommodating perhaps a billion people, with the numbers continuing to grow. Squatters occupy vacant land or buildings without the consent of the owner. Squatting in existing buildings is more common in the Global North, particularly in Europe, and tends to be more political, often explicitly anticapitalist, than squatting on vacant land, which accounts for the vast majority of squatters, particularly in the Global South. Urban squatter housing needs to be seen as valuable housing rather than just as a social problem. Housing generally has exchange value, a price on housing markets, as well as use value, the utility of it for those who live in it. Early research dealt primarily with use value because of the emphasis on self-building and collectively organized invasions of land. Demand for scarce stocks of affordable housing leads to market prices despite governmental denial of the possibility of ownership of illegal dwellings. Squatter housing often meets the needs of poor people more effectively than public housing, and policy initiatives around the world are attempting to enhance the utility of informally built and regulated housing while mitigating the environmental problems that they can cause. Formalizing informal housing is a key but controversial policy. Research has revealed that informal tenure security is considered adequate by residents, resulting in lower than expected demand for squatter titling. Formalization may also lead to gentrification and thus diminishes the abilities of informal housing to provide affordable accommodation.

Article

The stretch of the Nile River upstream from the First Cataract corresponds to the Middle Nile and extends from southern Egypt to the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile in central Sudan. Its water basin is wider than that of the Lower Nile Valley and includes considerable tributaries and groundwater outlets springing in oases, wells, or boreholes, which could support human populations in otherwise uninhabitable arid and semi-arid lands. The Middle Nile Valley and the adjacent western and eastern deserts feature a range of significant sites belonging to the Early Stone Age (ESA), the Middle Stone Age (MSA), and the Later Stone Age (LSA). The earliest hominin occupation goes back to the Oldowan. Sites dating to this period are not numerous but are dispersed in different areas and suggest that some may have been lost due to taphonomic agents. Acheulean techno-complexes attest to a more consistent human presence in northern Sudan, western Sudan, and eastern Sudan. Research along the Red Sea coast and inland has provided strong evidence on green corridors for hominin dispersals connecting East Africa to the eastern desert. A variety of MSA techno-complexes appear in different territories. The most frequent industries have been assigned to the Sangoan, Lupemban, Nubian Complex, Aterian, and Khormusan. Early MSA Sangoan and Lupemban sites concentrate in the main Nile and White Nile areas, whereas Middle MSA Nubian Complex sites also appear in the eastern desert. Almost unknown in the Egyptian Nile Valley, the Aterian is well attested to in the Middle Nile Valley, as well as in the western desert. Finally, the Late MSA Khormusan and the LSA are mostly restricted to northern Sudan, with the exception of an LSA evidence in eastern Sudan, at Khashm el-Girba. The renowned LSA cemetery at Jebel Sahaba with signs of interpersonal violence is located in northern Sudan. Thanks to their favorable intermediary position, the Middle Nile Valley and the adjacent western and eastern areas likely contributed to both the northern and the southern routes of out-of-Africa hominin dispersals. The northern route that led East African hominins into Southwest Asia and onward almost inevitably traversed Sudan. At the same time, Sudanese technological traditions also appear across the Red Sea, in the Arabian Peninsula and seemingly spread via the southern route.

Article

Anindita Majumdar

Surrogacy as labor is an important theoretical idea within anthropology. Emerging from ethnographic and feminist engagement, surrogacy or the practice of a woman gestating an artificially or naturally conceived fetus in her uterus for an infertile or childless couple, with the promise of compensation or a gesture of “gift-giving,” has been controversial. The idea of motherhood as a form of labor is especially under scrutiny within the practice of surrogacy as it becomes technologically supported through in-vitro fertilization and other forms of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and begins to be global. Against the universally socially exalted positioning of motherhood, the problematic practice of surrogacy defies social conventions. Thus, surrogacy as labor is a difficult proposition socially and morally, bringing forth questions regarding “body work” and intimate labor—all of which are represented within the practice of surrogacy. As a field of enquiry, surrogacy as labor includes theoretical and ethnographic engagements regarding the rise of transnational surrogacy and the “hiring” of women from the Global South by couples from the Global North, and what this has meant for pregnancy, birthing, and ART. Most importantly, labor and motherhood are enmeshed in this complicated narrative of family-making that involves the intermixture of race, culture, and commerce in an uneasy relationship. In thinking through the understanding of surrogacy as labor, it is important to trace its linkages with kinship, family, commerce, and medicine. Thus, surrogacy as labor is analyzed within the following themes: as linked to other forms of precarious labor that are also enmeshed in the “hostile worlds” of money and intimacy (such as sex work and domestic labor); as a process of kin-making; and as the most legislated form of work, globally.