41-60 of 202 Results

Article

Ann T. Jordan

Business anthropology is a fast-evolving field. Social sciences such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology each have a unique set of constructs and theories for studying human behavior and each brings special insights to understanding business. Anthropologists are skilled in observing and learning from the rich interaction of social beings in their environment. With methods based in techniques for first-hand observation and interviewing of participants, and with theoretical knowledge gleaned from studying human societies across the world, anthropologists are the social scientists uniquely situated by training to analyze the social milieu and group-patterned interaction in any human setting. Simply, business anthropology is the use of anthropological constructs, theory, and methods to study its three subfields: organizations, marketing and consumer behavior, and design. Organizational anthropology is the study of complex organizations from an anthropological perspective to solve organizational problems or better understand the nature and functioning of the organizational form within and across organizations. In marketing and consumer behavior anthropology’s methods allow one to get close to consumers and understand their needs, while anthropology’s theoretical perspectives allow one to understand how human consumption plays out on the world stage. In the design field anthropologists use their methods to observe and learn from the detailed interaction of social beings in the designed environments in which we all live. They use their theoretical perspectives to develop a holistic analysis of the rich data to develop new products and evaluate and improve existing ones whether they be refrigerators or office buildings. The field of business anthropology is difficult to define because the moniker “business anthropology” is a misnomer. This field, as most anthropologists practice it, is not limited to work in for-profit businesses. Business anthropologists work with for-profit organizations, but also non-profit ones, government organizations and with supranational regulatory bodies. In addition to working for a business, an organizational anthropologist might be working in a non-profit hospital to improve patient safety, a design anthropologist might be working for an NGO to develop a less fuel-intensive cooking system for refugee camps and an anthropologist in marketing might be working in a government agency to develop ways to advertise new vaccines.

Article

The topic of care has inspired a vast and complex body of research covering a wide range of practices. As an open-ended process, it is generally directed at fulfilling recognized needs and involves at least one giving and one receiving side. Although care has mostly positive connotations in everyday usage, giving or receiving it can also be a negative experience or express domination. Care evolves through complex arrangements of different actors, institutions, and technical devices and at the same time transforms them. As human needs are not a given, the process of care involves negotiations about who deserves to receive it and on what grounds, as well as who should provide it. Because care is so deeply implicated in articulating and mediating different moralities, it becomes central to constructions and classifications of difference. In this way, care extends far beyond intimate relations and is engrained in processes that establish belonging as well as various forms of inequality. Researching care in intimate settings as well as in public sectors enables bridging various communities of care and grasping how the distribution of care not only mirrors inequalities but contributes to their (re)production or even intensification.

Article

Heike Drotbohm

To care about and for others—that is other people, collectivities, plants, animals, or the climate—is a mundane and ubiquitous act. At some point in life, almost every human being needs to be cared for, encounters care, and eventually provides care. In anthropology, the critical notion of care provides an analytic tool for seriously considering life’s contingencies and for understanding the ways that people ascribe meaning to different kind of acts, attitudes, and values. This chapter argues that the concept’s normative dimension forms part of a cultural binarism that hierarchizes the world according to differently valued spheres of existence. Concentrating on this normativity as inherent to the notion, the chapter distinguishes three complementary empirical fields: care as (globalized) social reproduction, care as institutionalized asymmetry, and care beyond human exceptionalism. It becomes clear that care oscillates between two different perspectives, producing a particular tension. On the one hand, the care concept features a protective and conservative dimension that is congruent with the past. On the other hand, the concept incorporates a transformational dimension through its notions of development, progress, and improvement. To move beyond our own (potentially or inevitably) academic, Eurocentric, or human-centric understanding of the notion, this essay suggests moving “care beyond repair.” We can do so, first, by asking what role research plays in this differentiating ethics and, second, by identifying perspectives and positionalities that, at first glance, appear indistinct or inarticulate and hence do not confirm already-familiar categories of evaluation and distinction. Seen this way, care beyond repair draws attention to the making and unmaking of human existence.

Article

From the end of the Paleolithic Period onwards, cultivated cereals have interacted with ritual practices and social patterning through a variety of channels: the agrarian cycle provides a society with an array of stories and practices that are enshrined into its system of local knowledge; representations associated with grains develop into everyday practices; and cereal cultivation favorizes (or is triggered by) specific political forms, thus becoming embedded into the rituals through which political entities assert their legitimacy. Interactions between cereals, rituals, and social forms are informed by the characteristics proper to each staple cereal (maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, and millet, among others): the length of the maturation cycle, the degree of solidarity required from the rural community, the environmental requirements linked to its cultivation, its process of transformation into alcohol—all these factors inform the way a cereal inserts itself into a ritual and social complex. Starting with the changes in farming methods that coincided with the First Industrial Revolution, technological, social, and cultural transformations have been seemingly working toward the elimination or transmutation of cereal-based rituals. However, the timing, intensity, and effects of such transformations have differed widely from region to region. Besides, critical observation highlights the fact that these rituals are often hybridized, a phenomenon that repeatedly happened in history. Furthermore, current social processes affecting both producers and consumers may lead to a progressive ritualization of new beliefs and ways of proceeding.

Article

The identification of the Taung Child Australopithecus africanus type specimen as an early human fossil (hominin) by Raymond Dart in 1924, followed by key discoveries at sites like Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, and Makapansgat in the 1930s and ’40s, was key to understanding that humans first arose in Africa, not Europe or Asia. Later discoveries in eastern Africa have shown that the earliest potential hominins (e.g., Orrorin tugenensis) date back to at least 6 million years ago. In contrast, the oldest fossils hominins in South Africa are those of Australopithecus from the sites of Taung and Makapansgat and are dated to between about 3.0 and about 2.6 million years ago (Ma); only one specimen, from Sterkfontein, potentially dates to earlier than this sometime between 3.7 and 2.2 Ma. However, the majority of early hominin fossils in southern Africa come from 2.8- to 1.8-million-year-old palaeocave remnants in the Malmani dolomite of the Gauteng province. These sites have a rich record of hominin species, including Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus sediba, Paranthropus robustus, and Homo erectus. Most of these species, except for Homo erectus, are endemic to South Africa. However, the DNH 134 specimen from Drimolen Main Quarry does represents the oldest fossil of Homo erectus anywhere in the world. This specimen occurs at a time around 2 Ma when there is a turnover in hominin species with the extinction of Australopithecus and the first occurrence of Homo, Paranthropus, and an archaeological record of Oldowan and bone tools. Acheulian technology occurs from at least 1.4 Ma and is associated with specimens simply attributed to early Homo. The oldest hominin fossil outside the northern Malmani dolomite karst is dated to between 1.1 and 1.0 Ma, at Cornelia-Uitzoek in the Free State, and also represents the last specimen defined as early Homo. Paranthropus is also last seen around 1 million years ago, when the first specimen attributed to Homo rhodesiensis may also have occurred at Elandsfontein in the Western Cape. There is a dearth of hominin fossils from the terminal Early Pleistocene until the late Middle Pleistocene when a high diversity of hominin species occurs between about 340,000 and about 240,000 years ago (c. 340 and c. 240 ka). This includes a late occurring specimen of Homo rhodesiensis from Broken Hill in Zambia, Homo helmei or early modern humans from Florisbad, and Homo naledi from Rising Star. This is also a period (post 435 ka) containing both late occurring Acheulian and early Middle Stone Age (MSA) technology, but none of these fossils is directly associated with archaeology. Definitively early modern human fossils are not found until after 180 ka in direct association with MSA technology, and the majority, if not all, of the record occurs during the last 120 ka.

Article

Interest in the material remains of the past in Europe dates to the early 17th century, though archaeology as a discipline developed only two hundred years later. It was transposed to the Indian subcontinent once British colonial rule was established in the region, in the 19th century. Archaeological practice has often been discussed in secondary writings as presenting a “scientific” approach to the study of the past, though from the 1990s onward its political implications have been highlighted bringing into focus the search for remnants of the Greeks and Greco-Roman civilization by British archaeologists such as John Marshall (1876–1958) and Mortimer Wheeler (1890–1976), who worked as director-generals of the Archaeological Survey of India. This reliance on models worked out in Europe had a significant impact on the study of the beginnings of writing in the subcontinent, the development of epigraphy, and collections of inscriptions and copper plates. To stress the bias that has crept into an understanding of the significance of the written word in the Indian past, writings on ceramics need to be brought into the discussion as these have often been used in the colonial period for establishing chronology or “Roman” influence as evident in Wheeler’s 1946 excavations at Arikamedu on the Tamil coast. The development of several new trends over the last seven decades in the subcontinent has challenged colonial constructs and helped provide a balance.

Article

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article. The dichotomy between communities and archaeology (as a scientific discipline and practice) draws on the colonial experience in Africa. However, due to these colonial conditions, there has been a recurring false dichotomy between communities and the protection of their heritage (archaeological material). Since pre-colonial times in Africa, communities, especially at local grass-roots levels, have devised safeguarding measures to protect their valuable heritage (both cultural and natural), their so-called material culture and archaeological material. For many African communities, heritage resources are not mute but inscribed and imbued with meaning, symbolism, and interpretation that entrench local community claims to heritage and further underpin their experiences in protection and conservation management. This validates the indivisible but dynamic relationship between communities and archaeology, where communities have the opportunity to claim, engage, and interact with their heritage, even though issues of public access to “Protected Areas” is still problematic. On the contrary, disruptions by the colonial project in Africa sought to privilege and impose Eurocentric practices in the name of science through archaeology, among other disciplines that have since become dominant fixtures for interpretation and protection of heritage still featuring prominently in the post-colonial context. The popularization of the decolonization project in Africa has witnessed attempts to foreground communities as custodians and as main participants (beneficiaries) in archaeological practices in conservation management.

Article

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) refers to a methodological and epistemological approach to applied community projects in which researchers and community members collaborate as equals in the research process. Also known as participatory action research (PAR), CBPR has gained considerable acceptance both as a set of methods for identifying and addressing local issues of concern and as a vehicle for applying the principles of equity, cultural humility, mutual learning, and social justice to the relationships between researchers and communities. Although somewhat distinct from applied anthropology, CBPR shares with ethnography in particular an attentiveness to rapport building and community engagement and an overall validation of local knowledge. There is little consensus regarding the threshold of community participation necessary for a given research project to be considered CBPR. However, at a minimum the approach requires that community members define the problems to be assessed, provide consultation on the cultural and social dimensions of the study population, and serve in an advisory capacity over the entire project. The history of CBPR and its antecedents reflects its twin values as a pragmatic approach to researching and addressing local problems and as an emancipatory social justice project that seeks to diminish the hierarchical relationship between researchers and community members. Specifically, the pragmatic perspective was developed in the United States by social psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1930s (and subsequently by the anthropologists Laura Thompson and Sol Tax), while the emancipatory approach derives from the work of educational theorist Paulo Freire in Brazil in the 1970s. Community Advisory Boards (CABs) play an outsized role in the success of CBPR projects, since they typically represent the community in these studies, and thus maintain oversight over all aspects of the research process, including the study design, sampling and recruitment protocols, and the dissemination of findings. Accordingly, nurturing and maintaining trust between researchers, the CAB, and the community constitutes a foundational practice for any CBPR study.

Article

Hadrien Saiag

The global crisis that erupted in 2007–2008 clearly exposed that debt with financial institutions has become a key element of household social reproduction in most parts of the world. One way to analyze how this situation impacts on people’s lives is to investigate the very nature of debt (its “essence”), which is often conceived as intrinsically violent. However, most anthropologists consider how people manage their debt and take a situated approach to debt in context. Their focus on people’s financial practices takes a broad view of consumer credit as any number of monetary debts that households incur to make ends meet. Their examination of how debt is managed within the household points up that consumer credit is often used to sustain meaningful social relations, although this can trigger a debt spiral. This spotlight on how people’s financial practices relate to broader historical and social contexts shows that the rise of consumer credit is instrumental in reshaping class, racial, and gender relations in their material and moral dimensions, and that people can be found to resist debt in many ways. Although these trends in the anthropological literature make for a rich understanding of debt relations, much could still be done to understand why people in most settings complain about their debts, but do not openly rebel against them.

Article

Elisabeth Schober, Camelia Dewan, and Johanna Markkula

Goods moved on board container ships constitute 70 percent of all world cargo by economic value, which makes container ships vital things in the broader agglomeration of contemporary global capitalism. These vessels are in themselves also containers of other forms of value: they on occasion store, move, and disperse noneconomic forms of social worth. Building on the insights of critical logistics studies and coupling them with anthropological insights on value, the article proposes an ethnographic “life-cycle” approach to the study of container ships that broadens maritime anthropology to encompass contemporary forms of seaborne capitalism. With the container vessel functioning as a connecting device between different “sited” fieldwork experiences in shipbuilding, shipping, and shipbreaking, such a collaborative effort can bring the larger system of maritime transportation into focus. Furthermore, when viewed through the value-within-life-cycle prism, the container ship may present itself not as an object that has a singular form but rather one that is made up of a multitude of ships that come in and out of being. By describing it as a gestalt—a dynamic material assemblage that is more than the sum of its parts—attention is paid here to how highly dependent the container ship is on geographical and social context, on ever-shifting layers of value attributed to it, and on the multifarious meaning-making among the workers laboring around it.

Article

The roots of contract archeology were laid even before the development of a legislative framework that prescribed the processes to be followed. Contract archeology was being seen by the museums and universities as the best avenue to the subsidizing of archeological research. The increased research funding of the 1960s and 1970s was on the decline in the 1980s. Universities, therefore, were at a disadvantage and needed to explore other avenues of funding. Legislative changes over the years, which made it mandatory for developers to fund impact assessments to mitigate potential damage of valuable heritage resources from their proposed activities, have led to a significant proliferation of private archeological companies. These have been established to provide developers with the expertise they need to satisfy these legal requirements. The approach used in South Africa is that the developer must pay to assess the nature of the likely impact of their proposed activity. Government entities are then tasked with the responsibility of reviewing studies undertaken by specialists subcontracted by developers. The subdiscipline of archeology has grown significantly in South Africa, specifically enabled by legislative changes over the years requiring that predevelopment assessments of heritage sites be undertaken prior to approvals being made. However, archeology has continued to be defined as racially unrepresentative of the South African demography. In addition, the management of heritage resources through the use of contract archeology has been characterized by a variety of administrative challenges.

Article

Siméon Kouassi, Léon Fabrice Loba, and Ettien N'Doua Etienne

The shell middens of Côte d’Ivoire span almost the entirety of the southern coastal zone of the country. Unearthed in the second half of the 1930s, they are sites of almost unparalleled preservation, providing a wealth of information about the lives of the area’s ancient inhabitants. While they are very often prey to pillaging, archaeological studies of these middens have enabled the exhumation of lithics, ceramics, metals, and burial remains that offer insight into the ideologies, social organizations, and health of the people that made them. Data recorded in geological reports, scientific publications, site explorations, ethnoarchaeological studies, surveys, and field excavations have highlighted the major characteristics of these shell middens. While invaluable as archaeological resources, their location and material value make them sensitive to encroaching urbanization and economic exploitation.

Article

Rasmus Dyring

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article. Since the turn of the millennium, critical phenomenology has developed in a parallel fashion in both philosophy and anthropology, with considerable cross-pollination between the two movements. Where philosophical phenomenology traditionally has focused on disclosing the transcendental structures of subjectivity that condition the possibility of concrete lived experience, critical phenomenology combines a phenomenological sensitivity toward lived experience with a critical view as to how subjectivity is fashioned also under quasi-transcendental—experientially accessible and ethico-politically mutable—sociocultural and economic conditions. In both philosophy and anthropology, critical phenomenology has been inspired and instigated by feminist thinking and queer theory, and it most often takes its point of departure in the lifeworlds of those living somehow on the margins of society: for example, people of color, queer people, drug users, homeless people, and people living with dementia or other mental illnesses. In anthropology, this combination of the phenomenological and the critical has been understood roughly in two different ways, according to where the critical impulse is located. One kind of critical phenomenology undertakes a third-person critique of societal structures, inspired by critical theory or poststructuralism, and combines it with a phenomenological analysis of the first-person experience of what it feels like to live under such conditions. Another approach to critical phenomenology finds the critical impulse in first-person experience itself. Here, the excessive limit experiences of breakdowns, perplexing particulars, and interruptions endured by people in their ordinary lives are explored phenomenologically as the loci of an indigenous critique of the prevailing societal orders and of the potentiality for things becoming otherwise. Critical phenomenology is closely related to the phenomenological and critical hermeneutical branches of the anthropology of ethics and, to some extent and critically so, to the ontological turn in anthropology.

Article

Throughout history the continent of Africa has witnessed major conflicts and wars. Most of these conflicts have wreaked havoc in people’s lives and their socio-economic well-being. The nature of conflict on the continent has both indigenous and exogenous origins. Past colonial wars of occupation and the subsequent occupations generated conflicts and wars of its own. These led to the creation of what the so-called modern states that exist in Africa. Most of these creations by colonial powers were designed to serve their own interest. However, the wars and movements of independence also generated conflicts of their own. The modern states created during the colonial days are also the root cause of some of the conflicts today in Africa. The world conflicts during the Cold War also generated Africa’s own conflicts. The rise of extreme religious movements like Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), and their affiliates have taken advantage of the fragile states of Africa to cause destruction in the continent. All these conflicts have had an impact on the heritage of Africa and in some instances generated its own places of commemoration and remembrance. With the creation of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage Convention in 1972 and its efforts to protect heritage places, Africa has registered some of the places of remembrance and commemoration to the prestigious World Heritage list. Some of the sites registered are a result of conflict. But what concerns UNESCO is the management of the sites on its World Heritage list. Thirteen of these sites from the continent are on the danger list, largely due to the conflicts ravaging Africa. Through the 1954 Hague Convention, UNESCO has tried to ensure that African state parties adhere to the norms of protecting heritage in the event of a war or conflict between nations. Unfortunately most conflicts in Africa are not between conventional armies but largely internal through guerrilla warfare, thus limiting the application of the 1954 Convention. Some of the conflicts in Africa that have had an impact on heritage have attracted attention from major powers in the world. For example, the conflict in Libya has had countries such as Italy, the United States, and France interested in protecting the heritage places there. In the same vain France has been attracted to the conflict in Mali, which threatens the famous sites of Timbuktu among others. In all these UNESCO has played a part in highlighting the need to protect heritage and in the case of Mali even successfully enlisted the International Court of Justice to prosecute the perpetrators of these attacks on heritage. In some cases, like in Nigeria with the Boko Haram attacks on the world heritage site of Sukur Cultural Landscape, there has been a deafening silence from either UNESCO or any other international organization or country.

Article

Christine Miller

Design anthropology and the factors that converged to facilitate its emergence are examined. Design anthropology has been alternately described as a “fast-developing academic field” and “distinct style of knowing” (Otto and Smith), “an emerging transdisciplinary field” (Miller), and “as a distinct subfield of interdisciplinary research” (Clark). These descriptions have in common an agreement that design anthropology is a distinct form of knowledge production that integrates design and anthropological practice and theory that is supported by a growing network of proponents, both academic and practitioner. Design anthropology’s origins have been traced to several factors: the emergence of the participatory design movement in Scandinavia toward the end of the 1990s, the introduction of ethnography in design in the late 1970s, and the earlier influence of the work of designer and educator Victor Papanek in the early 1960s. In the United States, it is often categorized as a subdiscipline of business anthropology. Within Europe and Scandinavia, it is accepted as a field in its own right with a “distinct style and practice of knowledge production.” In spite of these differences and amidst the creative tension resulting from the convergence of anthropological and design methods, concepts, theory, and practice, design anthropology has emerged as a new form of naturalistic inquiry that is based on rigorous empirical research and critical inquiry, a transdisciplinary field that is intentionally interventionist, participatory, and transformative. Design anthropology reflects shifting attitudes and changing modes of engagement in its parent fields. Within anthropology, the concept of an interventionist, transformative, and future-oriented practice runs counter to deeply embedded attitudes around passive observation research and ethics. Likewise, in design where craft, “doing,” and “making” have dominated, there is a renewed surge of interest in more scholarly-based design research, emphasizing empirical research and a designerly version of theoretical reflection. Theory in design has traditionally been related to various aspects of form. Design theory is also “made through” design. Johan Redström refers to this form of theory as “transitional theory,” “a kind of design theory that is inherently unstable, fluid, and dynamic in nature.” This conceptualization of theory is similar to the grounded theory approach in the social sciences in which theory emerges from original data and is developed from the ground up. Beginning with a summary of the conditions and forces that engendered the emergence of design anthropology, the field is described as evolving in ways that are provoking change in traditional forms of design and anthropology. Beyond the influence on its parent disciplines, design anthropology represents an evolving trajectory of emerging fields that open to the possibility of imagining, designing, and co-creating sustainable futures based on social justice and virtuous cycles of growth.

Article

Design anthropology is a dynamic interdisciplinary field of scholarship, research, and practice. Rather than a concern with highlighting divergences between design and anthropology, design anthropology is concerned with convergences and confluences in design and anthropology. One of the main aims of this emerging field is to link social and material practices of designing to the affects and effects that design processes and practices have on people who engage with different kinds of design outputs. Design anthropology in Europe has emerged in and through collaborations across universities and public and private sectors. The emerging field of design anthropology in Europe is expanding and has been influenced and continues to be influenced by developments in design anthropology internationally. Researchers in this field carry out research and collaborate with research partners both in Europe and globally. The field is characterized by conceptual reconfigurations, disciplinary dialogues, interdisciplinary research, multidisciplinary teams, and transdisciplinary practices involving collaborative methodologies and mixed methods, and engagement with public and private partners. Collaboration can occur offline, online, or a mixture of both, depending upon the research being carried out. Central issues are to identify anthropological methodologies and theoretical concepts that would support future-making practices in a diversity of design processes and practices; attune different kinds of design processes towards engagement with communities of practice; contribute to the design and critique of emerging technologies; enhance existing products, services, or experiences, strategies, and policies; and further develop aspects of visual and sensorial ethnography whereby designing is the process of collaborative research inquiry.

Article

Riall W. Nolan

International development is one of humanity’s most important global undertakings, but it is also a “wicked problem” characterized by uncertain and shifting priorities, disagreements, and unexpected outcomes. Created during and in the aftermath of World War II, the development industry of the early 21st century is large, complex, and highly influential. It is also relatively opaque to outsiders and largely independent of normal means of democratic control. Anthropology has been involved in development from colonial times, but particularly so since the 1950s, and anthropologist practitioners have made several important contributions to development planning and implementation. The discipline’s influence overall, however, has been overshadowed to a large degree by other disciplines, such as economics, which still remains dominant in the industry. Anthropological influence has waxed and waned over the years, both as a response to development policies and priorities, and as a response to changes within the discipline itself. Anthropological analyses of development, as well as detailed development ethnographies, have helped people inside and outside the industry understand why and how development efforts succeed and fail, and indeed, how to define success and failure in the first place. At the same time, anthropologists have enhanced our appreciation of the role of language, power, and agency in the development process. In the future, anthropology is likely to become more important and influential in development work, given the growth of disciplinary trends favoring practice and application and renewed focus within the development industry on poverty eradication.

Article

Nonofho Mathibidi Ndobochani

Africa is the cradle of humankind, with the origin, evolution, and dispersal of hominids understood from this continent. It was not left out in the quest for knowledge on how human beings lived in the past, where they lived, what they used and ate, as well as changes that occurred through time. The development of archaeology in Africa, as elsewhere, had two aspects to it—the volume and inclination of work done as evidenced by extensive fieldwork and publications, and the change in approach that saw a shift toward philosophical and methodological concerns. Terminology broadened as there was a shift from merely establishing evidence of occupation and the presence of material culture, to studying the subtleties and processes underlying the material culture. The human mind is complex; it generated a dynamic material culture temporally and spatially, and notwithstanding the environmental impact on past cultures, humanity also colonized landscapes. Appreciation of an interchange between humanity and the environment became necessary to sync and contextualize the development of ideas, concepts, and worldviews, and whether they emerged from within societies or were externally influenced, they were shared across time and space—necessitating multidisciplinary approaches to studying the past. To an archaeological scholar in Africa, the problem is compounded. The study of the past has always been from an observer’s point of view, resulting in the call to “decolonize archaeology”—Africans were alienated in studying the past and the tendency was to have them not see this past as their heritage. Archaeology must be relevant to Africa’s issues of environmental management, food security, and socioeconomic challenges such as youth and women’s empowerment. What can the discipline offer? Is the archaeology of Africa accessible to its population, and do we see possibilities for an intergenerational beneficiation of Africa’s past? Most importantly, Africa still has a wealth of knowledge to offer in the study of the paleoenvironment, human evolution, food production and processing, historical ecology, multidisciplinary approaches, and computer technology. Their contribution to a better understanding of the rich, complex, and dynamic African past is of utmost importance.

Article

Contract archaeology (CA) is a relatively new concept in world archaeology. It first became prominent in the United States five decades ago and in southern Africa four decades ago. Many archaeologists in the region are employed as contract archaeologists. CA has contributed significantly to the development of archaeological methods and techniques and, to a lesser extent, theory. The development of CA in southern Africa experienced an important transition five decades ago. Despite the progression of CA in the region, the quality and standards of reports are major problems. CA structures have to be developed in order to protect cultural heritage from destructive projects. The elaboration of a relevant and active CA program that engages stakeholders is also vital. The future of CA depends on several factors, including strong legislative frameworks and policies that make pre-development studies mandatory, funding of projects, public consultations, and protection of cultural resources. In addition to implementing several cultural heritage structures, the “polluter pays” principle should be reinforced to safeguard southern African cultural heritage. It is important to develop CA statutes that move beyond archaeological studies, pay attention to heritage, and stress intangible heritage.

Article

Gideon Singer

What is electronic waste? E-waste is both a by-product of manufacturing processes and the disposal of end-point devices in our digital infrastructure—the mountains of televisions, microwaves, video game consoles and handhelds, Christmas lights, and so on which are often visualized in news reports and popular media. However, digital garbology reveals an alarming assemblage of additional externalities resulting from the hyper consumption of electronic devices and even digital services requiring significant amounts of physical and social resources to operate (such as Facebook, Netflix, and bitcoin). Consequently, digital worlds are neither more nor less material than the worlds that preceded them. And yet, digital media is often perceived as immaterial because of a growing disconnect between people and the wires, power sources, and data centers that enable them to access digital worlds. Anthropologists practicing digital garbology have a critical role to play in helping to counteract the socioecological consequences of the world’s fastest growing waste stream empathetically and strategically. Waste is a quintessential anthropological topic because it crosscuts the subfields of archaeology, linguistic anthropology, biological or physical anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. The digital is also becoming an essential topic for 21st-century anthropologists looking to interpret and design the interactions people have with social media, surveillance technology, geographic information systems (GIS), and Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART). Anthropological archaeologists have increasingly integrated archaeological and ethnographic methods to make contributions to policy, public perceptions, and behavioral interventions concerning consumption, discard, recycling, and reuse. However, it is only in the last decade, from 2010 on, that anthropology and closely related disciplines have begun paying attention to electronic waste. Digital garbology, a synthesis of digital anthropology and garbology, is a novel and essential framework for practicing anthropology in the 21st century. Digital garbology helps to identify and recommend strategies for confronting uneven, and often unjust, distributions of e-waste onto marginalized communities. Furthermore, digital garbology encourages anthropologists to support community-based actions such as organizing repair cafés, participating in local government, banding with activists to challenge multinational corporations, and drawing attention to the blind spots in environmental, economic, and social discourse concerning waste produced by digital technologies.