21-40 of 263 Results


The Anthropology of Policy  

Noémi Lendvai-Bainton and Paul Stubbs

The anthropology of policy as a field emerged in the 1990s in recognition of the need to understand and critically interrogate policies as important sites of classification, disciplining, and production of order and change. The anthropology of policy has developed as a critical strand challenging mainstream policy studies, public administration, and political science by insisting that the work of policy is always political. Policy worlds are seen as inextricably linked to power relations just as much as politics itself; indeed, the border between policy and politics is highly permeable. A wealth of literature that has been produced in the early 21st century has highlighted the complexities of the spatiotemporal dynamics of the deeply fragmented, unruly worlds of policy. A linear, stagist, and one-dimensional understanding of policy time fails to take account of the multiple, uneven, and contradictory temporal claims of policy. An emphasis on policy performance and affect has also highlighted the ways in which policies are always unfinished as they are mediated and translated, refused, inhabited, and reworked by those they summon. In the context of heightened policy mobility and movement, the importance of the idea of policy assemblages has emerged. Assemblages, animated by actors and actants, are always a heterogeneous combination of discourses and practices existing through unstable and contingent spatiotemporal orderings. Spaces of solidarity and fragility, policy assemblages are key sites for the making and unmaking of both hierarchies and possibilities. A critical tradition of the anthropology of policy needs to be built upon in order to offer a contribution to a broader decolonial turn. There is a need to deconstruct colonial assumptions, emphasize the relevance of colonial legacies, and develop decolonial approaches to understanding the policy world much more than has been the case thus far. In addition, there are questions not only concerning the “what” but also the “who” of an anthropology of policy. Activist anthropology plays an important role in terms of antiracism, counterhegemonic world-making, and policy otherwise, with new imaginaries and possibilities going beyond the general academic critique of a neoliberal, postneoliberal, and postdemocratic world. The challenges of big data, technological change, the crisis of democracy, and new forms of authoritarianism and angry politics all highlight the continued importance of anthropological approaches to policy.


The Anthropology of Special Economic Zones (Free Ports, Export Processing Zones, Tax Havens)  

Patrick Neveling

Special economic zones (SEZs) are a key manifestation of neoliberal globalization. As of 2020, more than 150 nations operated more than 5,400 zones. The combined workforce of factories and service industries in bonded warehouses, export processing zones (EPZs), free trade zones (FTZs), science parks (SPs), regional development zones (RDZs), economic corridors (ECs), and other types of SEZs exceeds one hundred million. These figures include tax havens, offshore financial centers, and free ports. Neoliberal academics and researchers from international organizations say that this has been a long time coming, as the freedom offered in the zones was integral to being human and first implemented in free ports of the Roman Empire. Critical social scientists, among them many anthropologists, have instead identified the zones as products of a 1970s rupture from Keynesian welfarism and Fordist factory regimes to neoliberal globalization and post-Fordist flexible accumulation. Since the early 21st century, scholarship in anthropology has expanded this critical stance on worker exploitation in SEZs toward a historical analysis of SEZs as pacemakers of neoliberal manufacturing globalization since the 1940s. A second strand of ethnographies uses a postmodern lens to research the zones as regimes that produce neoliberal subjectivities and graduated sovereignty.


Anthropology of the Balkans  

Ognjen Kojanić

Anthropological research in the Balkans has taken place under different labels—ethnography, ethnology, and folkloristics, to name a few. A throughline that connects the various scholarly histories in the region is the emergence of the discipline under the influence of German Romantic ideas about language and culture. Early anthropological research was entangled with the political goals of nation-building in the aftermath of projects of national liberation and oriented toward internal others, mainly peasants. After World War II, ideas from the Soviet practice of ethnography gained influence. Since the 1970s, national traditions of anthropological research have opened up to influences from the centers of anthropological knowledge production, primarily the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. From then on, a greater number of foreign anthropologists were coming to do fieldwork in the Balkans, more scholars from the Balkans began receiving their training outside the region, and those trained in their home countries started engaging in a more dynamic exchange with foreign anthropologists. This exchange resulted in a critical and reflexive examination of the definition and status of the Balkans as a concept. Anthropological research conducted in the aftermath of the fall of socialism, in the 1990s and later, has four overarching topics. First, many researchers focused on postsocialist transformations aiming to understand the various domains in which profound cultural changes were taking place. Second, the war in the former Yugoslavia and the rise of nationalism elsewhere saw a growing interest in the topic of ethnonationalism. Third, the continual flows of outmigration from the region, the process of European integration, and more attention to the enduring legacies of empires crystallized in the research on transnational flows. Fourth, analyses of gender and kinship across the previous three topics became important in their own right. Since the turn of the millennium, anthropologists have been more likely to take up topics that have global reverberations rather than those that are more limited to the Balkans. First, anthropologists have focused on novel political and economic subjectivities that have appeared in the region in response to overlapping crises. Second, the region has provided ample anthropological theorizations of the state against the backdrop of nostalgia for the lost socialist state and changing forms of action in the political domain. Finally, anthropologists have engaged with materiality more deeply by focusing on topics such as infrastructure, environment, and the body.


Anthropology of the Mediterranean  

Laia Soto Bermant and Sarah Green

The Mediterranean has been a controversial topic and area of study in anthropology and therein lies much of its value for the discipline. The notion of an anthropology of the Mediterranean emerged in the 1950s and was strongly associated with anthropologists working at the University of Oxford at the time, notably John G. Péristiany, Julian Pitt-Rivers, and John K. Campbell. The timing of this discovery was far from accidental. The majority of their fieldwork was carried out in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the European colonial empires in Asia and Africa were on the verge of disintegrating. The Mediterranean provided a safer alternative to the then politically unstable traditional field sites. Yet, despite the interest from anglophone scholars working in such a renowned university, the Mediterranean (particularly the northern Mediterranean) was a somewhat peripheral region within the anthropology of the day: its reputation as the birthplace of Western civilization and its relation to Europe made it an ambivalent anthropological field site at best. Since that time, anthropological studies within the Mediterranean region have had to adapt to significant changes in both anthropological theory and European geopolitics. Initially, anthropologists working in the Mediterranean region made the case for the development of a comparative anthropology of the Mediterranean that would examine similarities and differences in moral values, social organization, and political systems across neighboring regions. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, their work faced harsh criticism from anthropologists, who called into question the validity of the Mediterranean as a timeless regional category. At the heart of this debate were both the question of how to deal with sociocultural comparison across regions and the question of how to incorporate the passage of time into understandings of social and cultural diversity. As the 20th century came to a close, the geopolitical significance of the Mediterranean shifted once again. The European Union’s enlargement, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the war and subsequent breakup of former Yugoslavia, and the establishment of a shared European territory through the Schengen Agreement transformed the Mediterranean into a site of geopolitical negotiation and violent “border spectacles.” Ethnography in the Mediterranean region blossomed, encompassing a wide variety of issues such as migration, race, boundaries, national identity, infrastructure, and political conflict, yet “the Mediterranean” did not reappear in anglophone anthropology as a meaningful regional category, being replaced by the “anthropology of southern Europe” and the “anthropology of North Africa and the Middle East.” Since the 2000s, there has been a revived interest in the Mediterranean as a category of comparison. The instrumentalization of “the Mediterranean” as a political category by a number of national governments (e.g., France, Morocco, and Tunisia) and transnational organizations (e.g., European Union) in the region made it possible to speak of the Mediterranean not as a cultural area but as a political construction with important implications for native populations. Most anthropologists working in the region have emphasized the importance of developing a historically oriented comparative perspective that acknowledges the work of early Mediterranean scholarship while engaging with wider debates about the significance of different vantage points, such as the question of how scholarship about the region might differ from scholarship from the region.


Anthropology of Modern Traces  

Paul Wenzel Geissler

Industrial and colonial capitalism, and underlying ideas of melioration and domination, technological progress and encompassing, violent territorial expansion, shorthanded as “modernity,” have made and remade the material world humans inhabit today. Despite mounting doubts about modern projects and their progressive temporalities—on account of their mistakes and failures, and the collateral damage they caused—their material remains and residuals persist in the present, as potential “traces of modernity,” shape human and non-human life, and thus trigger anthropological curiosity. The spatial and temporal scale of such traces after modern endeavors ranges between that of abandoned industries and permanently damaged landscapes and that of toxic molecules and modified DNA. Some traces, such as carbon dioxide molecules transforming the Earth system or endocrine disruptors reshaping reproductive futures, challenge the very notion of scale. Traces include spectacular architectural ruins and trivial everyday objects. Some are attributed potency or beauty; others are considered waste or evoke repulsion. Accordingly, some are overlooked, hidden, or erased, while others are collected, preserved, or turned into monuments. Modern traces enmesh multiple temporalities. Referencing the past when they originated and the progressive aspirations they once served—that now are past futures—they often also embody the subsequent disappointment and decay, and they have present lives, which may or may not relate to these pasts and the temporalities they had harbored. Traces retain future potentiality and trigger unpredictable effects—being transformed or decaying with time, and transforming other materials or lives in turn. And being both damaged and inherently destructive, and ripe with utopian hope, they embody lasting modern ambiguities. Anthropologists have studied such traces explicitly in ethnographies of, for example, abandoned railway networks, postindustrial towns, outdated laboratories, or landscapes ravaged by colonialism and, implicitly, as an inevitable backdrop of social life in the present aftertime of modernity. Informed by neighboring disciplines that reshaped anthropology’s material sensitivities, like science and technology studies, archaeology and geography, these anthropologists are developing “tracing” as an ethnographic method: following and getting entangled with traces’ human sociality and more-than-human ecologies and attending to their affective resonances and effects, in order to explore the intertwining of materials and temporality in traces, their presence, and their potentials for the future. Social life after modernity is lived on and off the material substrate of modern traces, which have been left behind anywhere on the planet and surround or even physically pervade both human and nonhuman life-forms. Human practices and interspecies interactions in the Anthropocene inevitably engage with traces - often involuntarily and unpredictably -, in much the same way as the tentative, searching tracing pursued by the anthropologist. The anthropology of modern traces thus contributes to the key task of social anthropology, which is to understand the social organization, interaction, and process in the aftertime of modernity.


Anthropology, Technology, and Innovation  

Susan Squires

Applied anthropology is increasing an alternative to academic anthropological contributing to innovations in a broad range of products and services including technology, office equipment and furniture, business organization, breakfast foods, automobiles, hand sanitizers, communication media, medical equipment, smartphones, and much, much more. When applied anthropologists began to work in business organizations, they first called themselves industrial anthropologists and, later, organizational anthropologists. The first industrial and organizational anthropologists were based in the academy. However, in the 1990s a growing number of anthropologists also began to be employed at private businesses, including the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), IDEO, E-Lab, GVO, and even General Motors. There they were instrumental in applying the theory and methods of anthropology to potential innovation. At these companies , many of early applied anthropologists became accidental innovators as a consequence of their role working in teams composed of differing disciplines. It was the anthropologist on the team who was responsible for contributing research-based insights that framed, directed, and/or inspired creative idea. In the process of conducting research on a problem, these anthropologists stumbled across new ways to frame issues and uncovered insights leading to novel solutions: innovation. As the value of applied anthropology has been recognized, and employment of anthropologists has expanded, specializations have emerged. No longer does the title of organizational or business anthropologist always provide an appropriate or sufficient level of description for many anthropologists although both continue to be used. New labels, such as design anthropologist, user experience researcher, and marketing and digital anthropology, have been created to distinguish among applied anthropologists working in differing sectors. Organizational anthropologists have continued to contribute to our understanding of organizational culture. Design anthropology is used primarily by anthropologists working in product and technology industries. Digital anthropologists study human interactions in virtual/digital spaces, or investigate how digital technology is impacting society. Marketing anthropologists have been in advertising and marketing for decades, and there is a substantial body of scholarly literature generated from this work. Despite the different titles these anthropologists hold, from design to marketing, the value of the theoretical and methodological contributions of anthropology are the key underpinning of their research. The innovations that have resulted from the work of these anthropologists cannot be underestimated. The theories and methods of anthropology, applied by anthropologists, provide a perspective that takes a unique in-depth systems approach that can map interconnections, challenges, and assumptions and open up wider landscapes. The true innovation anthropologists contribute to innovation is anthropology itself.


Application of Space and Place Theories to Design  

Denise Lawrence-Zúñiga

Anthropological inquiry about the reciprocal influence of human behavior on space and place primarily focuses on the production and use of built environments. Many questions about “design” began in the 19th century when medical doctors sought to “cure” schizophrenia through the architecture of mental hospitals. Vigorous renewed interest re-emerged, however, in the mid-20th century when designers and planners, sometimes also trained in psychological and social sciences, began focusing on designs that could accommodate users’ needs. Sociocultural anthropological research using ethnography has traditionally described the adaptation of native peoples to their physical environments that enable their survival. These investigations and findings are framed by the concept of culture—a holistic understanding of integrated, collectivized, and institutionalized systems and values. A variety of space and place theories emphasize notions of practical and symbolic foundations in place-making beginning with perception and proxemic dimensions of spatial recognition and interpersonal interaction. Ethnographic studies of holistic spatial concepts focus on houses, work environments, and prisons, hospitals, schools, and eldercare facilities. Out-of-door spaces include the consideration of neighborhoods and gated housing, and public plazas and parks. Some of these latter spaces are public, some are private, and some are ambiguous. Finally, in the world of professional design practices, anthropology contributes insights into P.O.E. (post-occupancy evaluation) and “design anthropology,” which emphasizes an engaged anthropological participation to consider reflexively not just design recommendations but anthropology itself.


Applied Anthropology and Public Health  

Doug Henry and Lisa Henry

This article details the contributions of applied anthropology to public health, focusing on complementary and divergent interests, orientations, and methods. We emphasize areas where productive collaborations have occurred around convergent topics such as infectious and chronic disease, policy, interventions, and analysis of the social, political, and economic contexts that structure the conditions of health. Public health’s emphasis on community and advocacy provides a natural entry point for anthropology’s ethnographic method that emphasizes spending time with a community and understanding aspects of culture and health from its peoples’ perspectives. When a multidisciplinary team meets on a common interest, such as improving public health, everyone’s interests become better served if each discipline’s perspectives and values are recognized. Anthropologists with careers in public health can expect to engage in formative research to help develop the most appropriate health interventions, evaluate community uptake or rejection of public health initiatives, or critically examine the effects of national or global policies on local populations.


Applying Anthropological Insight in an Aging World  

Sherylyn Briller and Erika Carrillo

Aging is a biological and sociocultural experience that occurs globally. Although aging is universal, ideas about aging and the life course vary widely and influence how aging and quality of life are perceived. Aging occurs both individually and collectively. Individuals have their own life stories and experiences shaped by cultural values, norms, and life course expectations. Anthropology’s attention to both scientific and humanistic ways of exploring what it means to be human is well suited to investigating how people live and age over time and in various locations. Like other anthropological subjects, one can explore aging in terms of human evolution as well as biological and cultural variation in aging experiences. Combining these topics to take a holistic perspective forms the subfield of the anthropology of aging. Given the breadth and scope of the anthropology of aging’s subject matter and global population aging, it is easy to see why this subfield is so fascinating to explore and work in as a career field. Numerous prior reviews cover the subfield’s origins and development and are highlighted. Homage is paid to the subfield’s history, and how to apply what has been learned to understanding a rapidly aging and socially changing world is discussed. As many have indicated, significant challenges and opportunities lie ahead.


Applying Religion  

Frederick (Fritz) P. Lampe

Anthropology has long been interested in religion. Shifts in the anthropology of religion include expanding notions of what it is beyond Eurocentric distinctions between sacred and profane, real and superstitious, pure and syncretic, primitive and civilized, and true and naïve. With these shifts come creative and collaborative approaches to understanding systems of meaning. The result is that anthropologists are now engaging with global movements, the ways proponents of particular movements impact, influence, and shape local discourse and practice, and the creative ways religious ideas coalesce into meaningful social practice. Approaches to the domain of religion and its relevance for and within communities recognize: (a) that comprehensive systems of meaning shape individual and social experience; and (b) the ways religion influences and informs ideas about health and healing, community development, climate change, and sustainability. Opportunities to apply anthropologically informed approaches to religion result. Religion, health, and healing are deeply intertwined. For example, many people seeking life-work balance have turned to meditative practices. Yoga classes, for one, have many people meeting in health clubs, church basements, in city parks, and other community venues. Deep breathing and experiencing the wholeness of one’s body, mind, and spirit impact the ways people understand themselves in relationship to others and the world. The novel coronavirus, COVID‑19, has highlighted the relationships people have with scientific inquiry vis-à-vis their faith, the ways God’s work and will interface in a global pandemic, and what responsibilities people of faith have. These things have come to the fore during the pandemic. These same tenets inform how communities of faith respond to government regulations about childhood immunizations. In addition to physical health, religion is relevant to social health and healing as well. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, massive protests called for an end to systemic racism in the United States. A rainbow of people took to the streets to protest the continued and systematic oppression of minority communities—Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, and White together with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning—and they quickly became allies calling for change. Protesters and those who opposed them invoked symbols filled with religious meaning to support their cause in order to restore the nation to health, and what that means. Pilgrimages physically substantiate underlying meaning for people, their sense of identity and purpose. Making a pilgrimage removes someone from ordinary time, immersing that person into liminal time and space. With some pilgrimages come changes in status, marking a shift in someone’s identity, status, or place in life. Communities tie these rites of passage to important moments in people’s lives; from birth to a conversion experience, from last rites to the ancestral realm and everything in between, people and the communities they are a part of continually mark changes in status and stature. Religious perspectives inform those working in international aid and community development, how they understand their role and task as well as those with whom they work. When fostering community development, private and public organizations reflect and sometimes reinforce ever-persistent ideas linking religious ideas and practices with material wealth, social organization, and relationships to the nonhuman world. When terms like “developed,” “developing,” and “undeveloped” are used to describe the settings within which they work, a socioreligious value is being placed on people and their ways of living and being in the world. Human relationships to the earth are fundamentally religious. The ways communities use their time, energy, and resources reflect religious values and perspectives. Modern environmentalism has long recognized the importance of reimagining human beings and their relationship to the cosmos. Religious ideas and practices inform whether people see the earth, water, sky, and creatures as things to be used for the pleasure of humans, as gifts to be cared for, or as living, sentient beings. Responses to climate change are reflected in the relationships fostered by formal and informal religious movements. With the movement away from Eurocentric models of religion have come new opportunities to envision how anthropologists can approach health and healing, community development, and sustainability. People trained in anthropology have many ways to put these perspectives and methodologies to work in applying religion. Public and private sector organizations including government, for-profit and not-for-profit entities are hiring people able to translate these seemingly tenuous relationships into pragmatic yet complex opportunities for making the world a better place.


Approaching Identity in Southern Africa over the Last 5000 Years  

Tim Forssman

Southern Africa’s past five thousand years include significant shifts in the peopling of the subcontinent. Archaeological approaches tend to characterize this period following these changes. This includes the appearance of herding and food production on a landscape that only hosted hunting and gathering, the arrival of new and competing worldviews and settlements systems, the local development of complex and state-level society that involved multiple groups, the arrival and eventual colonization of the region by European settlers, and the segregation, imbrication, articulation, and creolization of various identities. As part of studying this phase, quite often it is viewed as a series of “wholes” that share space and time. These “wholes” are usually identity groups: foragers, herders, farmers, or colonists. While regularly kept separate, archaeological remains and historic records more often indicate inter-digiting and fluid social entities that interacted in complex ways. However, the past is frequently constructed around rigid concepts of people that usually reflect contemporary groups to some extent. Understanding past identities is historically contingent and rooted in contemporary approaches, methods, and frameworks. This is no different in the mid- to late Holocene in southern Africa, which also involves the construction of pasts and people associated with non-colonial communities. The role of identity in how the past is formed has played a significant role in building sequences, interpreting material culture, and assigning change to migrations and movements within the subcontinent. Archaeologists regularly grapple with issues involving identity that include the influence of colonial writings, the impact of social contacts, and the relationship between past and present people. Taxonomizing the archaeological past by following ethnic groups and subsistence practices has led to intense and frequent discussion and debate. The nature of identity, however, is hard to define and relinquish from the influence of Western ontologies of being and community. Archaeologists are therefore forced to orientate themselves betwixt and between the past and the present to more accurately reflect people.



Erich Fisher

Computational and digital technologies have fundamentally transformed archaeological practice. Archaeologists routinely use computers and the internet for digitally recording, archiving, displaying, and communicating archaeological knowledge and ideas. Many governmental and funding agencies even stipulate that primary data acquired through grant funding now must be made publicly accessible through digital data archives. Archaeoinformatics is the study of computational and digital technologies to analyze, archive, and disseminate archaeological records and the locations, contexts, and characteristics of the materials that embody those records. The strength of archaeoinformatics, though, is not in the ubiquitous use of computers or other digital technologies; it is the integrative framework that these technologies provide to create intrinsically interdisciplinary studies of complex archaeological problems. This integrative framework is sustained by adapting knowledge and methods from other disciplines. As a result, archaeoinformatics specialists are often skilled at traversing disciplinary boundaries, and archaeoinformatics, therefore, can be considered a unifying science that bridges disciplines via a digital platform allowing researchers to tackle complex research questions using multipronged research strategies.


Archaeological Adhesives  

Geeske Langejans, Alessandro Aleo, Sebastian Fajardo, and Paul Kozowyk

An adhesive is any substance that bonds different materials together. This broad definition includes materials used in everything from hafted stone tools to monumental architecture. In addition, the combination of bonding, plasticity, and insolubility meant that some adhesives were exploited for waterproofing and sealing of materials, as self-adhering inlays and putties, and as paints, varnishes, and inks. Adhesives have a history of at least 200,000 years. Throughout (pre)history and around the world, people used materials, including bitumen/asphalt, carbohydrate polymers such as starches and gums, natural rubbers, mortars, proteins (from casein, soy, blood, and animal connective tissue), insect and plant resins, and tars made from various barks and woods. Adhesives thus are very diverse and have widely varying properties: they can be tacky, pliable, elastic, brittle, water-resistant, fluid, viscous, clear, dark, and much more. They are a plastic avant la lettre. These properties can and were tweaked by mixing ingredients or by further processing. In the study of archaeological adhesives, their characterization is essential and this is best done with chemical and spectroscopic methods. When larger coherent samples as opposed to single finds are analyzed, adhesive studies can provide data on past technologies, socioeconomic organizations, and environments and raw material availability. Through sourcing and mapping of ingredients and adhesive end products, travel and transfer of materials and knowledge can be illuminated. Additionally, experimental reproductions provide data on technological aspects that otherwise are lost in the archaeological record. An archaeology of adhesives can reveal the transport networks, subsistence, mobility strategies, division of labor, and technological know-how that held societies together.


Archaeological Heritage Management in Tanzania  

Richard Bigambo

The idea that various forms of archaeological heritage are important is common among communities in different parts of the world. Similarly, the practices of looking after and ensuring the continued existence of such forms have a long history as well. This is evidenced by the fact that almost every community in the world has their own ways of looking after different aspects that are valued and recognized as archaeological heritage. Such ways usually involve administrative systems and regulations that control the process and guide practitioners that implement different activities related to the management process. Nonetheless, the early 19th century saw the beginning of efforts to standardize the Archaeological Heritage Management (AHM) practices in different parts of the world. This was done through the introduction of the management systems that formerly existed in Western countries to other parts of the world as an integral part of the colonial infrastructures. The result of this was the exportation of various management values and standards from Western countries to other parts. These newly introduced management systems have always been a source of conflict between the responsible authorities and the local community. Tanzania is among the countries of the world that are endowed with diverse forms of archaeological heritage. As in other former colonies, the current practices of AHM owe their origin to the colonial period and the succession of German and British imperial administrations. The extant system was introduced during the colonial period and has continued to operate, with some modifications introduced during the postcolonial period.


Archaeologies of Gender and Childhood in South Asia  

Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon

While some studies have been undertaken on childhood in South Asia, there is no focused archaeological study on any aspect of gender in this region. Hence, information has been culled from work that only tangentially refers to aspects of gender. Within the constraints at hand, themes of gender and childhood in South Asia can be explored from studies on representation, production, toys, and skeletal remains. For instance, age, gender, masculinity, identity, and status have been deciphered through anthropomorphic representations. Similarly, can women’s work be discerned by looking at the locations of production, or the presence of children through toys? Skeletal data have pointed the way toward an understanding of matrilocality, migration, stress, and trauma that may have impacted women and children. In South Asian archaeology, there has been a focus on artifacts and their production and on classification and typology, often at times to the exclusion of the people who would have been associated with these objects. If people are at all considered, it is always with the assumption that men were the active agents in production, with women undertaking primarily domestic chores, like cooking. The bulk of craft production appears to have taken place in household contexts, where women and children, as also the aged, would equally have been active producers. There are tantalizing glimpses of what can be archaeologies of gender and childhood in South Asia, where certain social groups experienced more stress and trauma than other groups, pointing toward social stratification in the Indus period. Similarly, in the medieval period, differential representations can give hints for gender and status relations among communities. However, much more work focusing on these themes needs to be done in this region. To get more nuanced and deeper insights into gender and childhood, questions around these themes need to be formulated and integrated into archaeological projects.


Archaeologies of the Recent and Contemporary Past in Africa  

Rachel King

Archaeologies of the recent and contemporary world represent a relatively young movement within Africa. Rather than being conceived as relative to a particular chronology, this movement is often characterized as concerned with investigating the practice of archaeology itself, especially its politics and its understanding of time. The small but growing body of literature in this subfield is reviewed both to highlight a moment of disciplinary innovation and to reflect on what modifications of methodology, ethics, and theory are necessary to adapt an intellectual movement developed in other parts of the world for the African continent. These include an emphasis on foregrounding African knowledge systems, especially diverse experiences of time and materiality; the potential for co-creation of data through relationships between these and Western ways of knowing; and mixed research methods. Themes such as time, materiality, and reflexivity are considered in contexts across the continent, as well as where archaeologies of the contemporary world overlap or exist in tension with related moves in cognate African Studies fields.


Archaeologists and Community Collaboration  

Krysta Ryzewski

Collaborative archaeology is a practice of partnership, stewardship, and accountability involving professional archaeologists and community stakeholders who share interests in a project’s objectives and outcomes. Community stakeholders may include familial descendants, local residents, civic officials, nonprofit organizations, tribal representatives, government agencies, commercial developers, business owners, the media, students, professionals from other fields (e.g., historic preservationists, architects, environmental scientists), and any other individuals or groups who have a vested interest in the sites that archaeologists investigate and interpret. Collaborative partnerships between archaeologists and communities take many forms, from one-time consultations to long-term initiatives that involve stakeholders in all aspects of project design, data recovery, and outcomes. In the early 21st century, collaborative archaeology projects have become increasingly oriented toward political action, ethical practice, restorative justice, community welfare, and engaging social issues that extend beyond the traditional disciplinary scope of archaeology. The sheer variety of community-involved archaeology projects and their culturally specific variations across the world are impossible to convey in a single summary. Therefore, this discussion focuses on the politically engaged and action-oriented perspectives of community archaeology projects and their processes, drawing primarily from North American examples.


The Archaeology and History of Human Diseases in the Zimbabwean Past  

Pauline Chiripanhura, Ancila Katsamudanga, and Justen Manasa

Throughout history, communicable diseases have impacted humanity. If present experiences are any indication, diseases must have had significant impact on transforming the economic and social organization of past communities. Some aspects of what is regarded as normal modern human behavior must have emanated from responses to diseases, especially epidemics and pandemics. Unfortunately, few studies have been conducted in this area of archaeological investigations to shed more light on the influence of these on past communities. This is more so in African countries such as Zimbabwe where the history of pandemics stretches only as far as the beginning of colonialism, less than 200 years ago. Although the earliest world epidemic was recorded during the 5th century, it was not until 1918 that Zimbabwe recorded the first incidence of a worldwide epidemic. There is little knowledge on how precolonial communities were affected by global pandemics such as Black Death, the bubonic plague, and similar occurrences. It has to be noted that global pandemics became more threatening as society made the shift to agrarian life around 10,000 years ago. This has led many scholars to regard the adoption of agriculture as the worst mistake in the history of the human race as they argue that the creation of more closely connected communities gave rise to infectious diseases and presented these diseases with the chance to grow into epidemics. Diseases such as influenza, smallpox, leprosy, malaria, and tuberculosis are among those that have thrived since this shift. With its long human history, Africa is well positioned to shed light on the occurrence of global pandemics as well as their distinct impact on communities living in diverse social, economic, and natural environments. As such, it is important to explore the study of diseases, especially epidemics and global pandemics, to augment the worldwide knowledge generated from other continents. This knowledge should also be juxtaposed with what is already known about changing social, economic, and political developments to see the potential impacts that these pandemics had on the human past. The history of migration should be viewed as a potential history of the spread of new diseases. For all the known pandemics, the South African coast has served as the major corridor of transmission of disease pandemics into Zimbabwe. However, archaeologically, it is known that migrations were mostly over land from the northern and eastern regions. It is interesting to delve into how the spread of diseases could have differed when the movements of people over land, rather than coastal ports, are the nodes. Since there are few documentary sources to help in the comprehension of past outbreaks in the precolonial period, archaeological evidence becomes key. Without doubt, human skeletons represent the most ubiquitous source of information on ancient diseases. Zimbabwe has remains that stretch from the Stone Age to historical times. Paleopathology is an underdeveloped discipline in southern Africa, but with increased awareness of the possibilities of the presence of various diseases in prehistory, it is expected to grow.


Archaeology in Sudan: A Sudanese Perspective  

Ahmed Adam and Shadia Taha

Sudan is a vast country marked by heterogeneity, dissimilarities, and diversities in its climates, topography, natural features, cultures, and people. Sudan’s multiplicity of cultures and communities is steeped in history and heritage as remarkable as anywhere else in the ancient world and the rest of Africa. Despite this, Africa’s heritage has been overlooked for centuries as a result of prejudice and stereotyping. The 19th and 20th centuries were characterized by supposition and fixation on an external origin of African civilizations, a focus that was based on European ethnocentrism and a sense of racial superiority. In common with the rest of Africa, archaeology was founded during the colonial period and, to a large extent, remained unchanged, retaining past management and interpretative approaches and influencing current practices and planning policies. Sudan’s rich and outstanding heritage, the home of the first great civilizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, was frequently overlooked. When discussing the civilizations of the Nile Valley, many historians and archaeologists focus entirely on the role of Egypt. Ancient civilizations in Sudan were constantly interpreted as the work of colonizers and were believed to be less advanced than Egyptian civilizations. The building of the Aswan High Dam threatened the lives of Nubians and their heritage. It necessitated the forced displacement of Nubian and Bushareen nomadic tribes from their homelands and submerged considerable heritage. Nonetheless, this was the first time an organized survey was undertaken in Sudanese Nubia. The rescue campaign provided archaeological evidence and replaced ethnic prehistory with new theories. Archaeology in Sudan underwent a dreadful experience throughout the thirty years it was under the governance of the ousted dictatorial regime. The government in power in 1989–2019, an autocratic rule with a different political ideology, took control over Sudan’s heritage. Along with an oil boom, fast modernization, urbanization, and unrest in the country, all these factors had a tremendous impact on archaeology and heritage and on the operation of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM). Moreover, the military forces, which used archaeological sites as military bases, took control over and demolished significant heritage and disconnected local communities from their heritage. From the 1980s, the number of native archaeologists and departments of archaeology increased. This period witnessed an expansion in research projects, themes, topics, periods, methods, and regions explored by Sudanese and foreign teams. There is a move away from focusing on single sites to understanding and exploring past environments and landscapes using new scientific methods of investigation. There are multiple challenges ahead, including climate change (flooding, destratification, shifting sands), globalization, mega-developments, lack of sufficient funding and resources, and, most recently, Covid-19. These are complex issues to deal with, especially for poor counties. Development and unrest in Sudan continue to force communities to move from their homelands and threaten the loss of traditional knowledge, diversity of culture, and connectedness with the land.


The Archaeology of Feasts and Feasting in Africa  

Liza Gijanto

Considered within the broader corpus of studies of food and foodways, feasting in African archaeological contexts has not been reported to the same degree as in other world areas. The reasons for this could be a genuine lack of feasting practices in African contexts as well as the focus on feasts as empowering events in more hierarchical societies. Where feasting has been identified, it is done with the aid of documentary or oral sources. Most of these studies are focused on locations and time periods of interoceanic trade in west and east Africa. Feasting has been identified in these contexts by utilizing multiple lines of material evidence, including ceramics, fauna, and items such as pipes related to leisure activities that would be part of a large celebration. In some, evidence is limited to location and fauna.