81-100 of 263 Results


Dollarization and Crisis in Argentina  

Mariano D. Perelman

Since the early 21st century the US dollar has been a public issue in Argentina, where the dollarization of sectors of the economy has been an ongoing process for some time. Indeed, circulation of the dollar has grown to the point that it is considered the best way to build savings and has a significant influence on daily economic life. Since 1980, the process of dollarization and outbreak of economic crises have been intertwined. This period can be divided into different crises: 1989 was a crisis of hyperinflation, 2001 was a major debt crisis, and the 2011–2015 crisis grew out of a struggle between the middle classes and the government in response to a ban on buying and accumulating dollars in large quantities. This latest round of crisis continues. Money is a universal measurement of value, encompassing values beyond the purely economic. In Argentina, the US dollar both activates crisis and is activated by crisis. Quotidian rituals have developed and standardized in conjunction with the popularization of the dollar, making it a central object of everyday life in Argentina. Indeed, the dollar provides an excellent starting place for a decently thorough history of contemporary Argentina. By focusing on the relationships and practices that have developed around the dollar, one can begin to understand how flesh and blood people have worked to build dignified lives and ways of living in relationship to one another. The dollar, both as a form of currency and in its demonetarized form, articulates a series of imaginaries about what a life worth living is. The dollar has catalyzed national models and projects. The dollar is a part of the daily experience of large portions of the population. And, when uncertainty grows, the dollar stabilizes.


Faunal Exploitation Strategies During the Later Pleistocene in Southern Africa  

Gerrit L. Dusseldorp and Jerome P. Reynard

Analysis of Late Pleistocene fauna exploitation (~130,000–12,000 years ago) in southern Africa is of global academic relevance. Faunal analyses from southern African sites have led to the development of influential hypotheses on the evolution of modern human hunting methods and subsistence economies. In the 1970s and 1980s, analysis of faunal remains from the Middle Stone Age site Klasies River informed the hypothesis that Middle Stone Age humans were less effective hunters than ethnographically documented hunter-gatherers. This was based on the underrepresentation of dangerous prey species in the bone assemblages. The development of detailed taphonomic research in the 1990s and 2000s demonstrated that the accumulation of faunal assemblages was the result of complex processes involving both human and nonhuman agents. These studies helped establish that Middle Stone Age hunters were as capable as those in ethnographically documented societies. Since then, important progress has been made in the identification of the weapons systems that were used to hunt animals. Analyses of lithic implements indicate bow-and-arrow use in southern Africa going back to at least 65,000 years ago. Animal exploitation strategies do change over time. Hunting strategies probably focused on large antelope during the Middle Pleistocene, and the importance of smaller animals increased This change was likely caused by a shift in prey populations that stemmed from a combination of environmental change and perhaps human population pressure. Late Pleistocene archaeological sites show increasing evidence for intensification; that is, an increase in the amount of food extracted from the environment by more thorough processing of prey, exploitation of new prey types, and development of new exploitation strategies. This pattern is usually linked to animal overexploitation and may be a result of human population expansion or environmental change if decreasing productivity limits the supply of animal prey. Notable examples of this are shellfish middens at coastal sites, the abundance of tortoises, and the presence of large numbers of small mammals that were likely snared instead of pursued.


The Early Iron Age of Botswana  

Catrien van Waarden

Agro-pastoralists arrived in Botswana in the 6th and 7th centuries, five groups of the Urewe Tradition of the Bantu migrations, of which two of the Nkope Branch or Central Stream, two of the Kwale Branch or Eastern Stream, and the fifth settled in the zone of contact between these two branches. A sixth group had links with the Naviundu Tradition in the southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. There is no evidence of a Western Stream of the Bantu migrations, also known as the Kalundu Tradition, in Botswana. During the second phase of the Early Iron Age, c. 800–1000 ce, east-central Botswana was dominated by the Zhizo culture.


The Early Middle Stone Age in South Africa  

Sarah Wurz

The Early Middle Stone Age (EMSA) from South Africa occurred, broadly, between 300,000 and 130,000 years ago. This is a crucial phase in the history of Homo sapiens, as genetic and fossil evidence increasingly indicate that the roots of Homo sapiens reach back to this time. The fossil evidence from South Africa from this period is sparse, but the c. 260,000-year-old Homo helmei partial skull from Florisbad is especially significant in understanding modern human origins. A detailed chronological and regional framework for the EMSA is still in progress, but on the available evidence, the earliest EMSA occupations seem to be centered in the interior and northern regions. Transitional entities such as the Fauresmith and Sangoan and the first EMSA without large cutting tools, from Florisbad, are found in these areas. In the EMSA, biface technology as well as bipolar, discoidal, blade, and Levallois technologies were used to manufacture a wide variety of blanks, some of which were retouched into an array of tool types. Before lithic types such as hand-axes and bifacial points can be used as diagnostic criteria to define, for example, the Fauresmith and Pietersburg, further extended technological analyses are needed to determine their production sequences and context. Prepared core or Levallois technology occur frequently, but not always, in the EMSA. Prepared core technology entails careful planning to shape stone nodules geometrically prior to knapping the preformed blanks. EMSA hunters used Levallois and other pointed flakes as armatures in hafted thrusting spears. Levallois and composite tool technology reflect complex problem solving and hierarchical organizational cognitive capabilities. These competencies are also evident in early pigment processing. The clear footprint of the EMSA on the South African landscape indicates that several human groups populated this region during the Middle Pleistocene. It is highly likely that such groups were linked across Africa and that they collectively developed into Homo sapiens.


Early Settlement in the High Andes  

Randall Haas

The Andean highlands of western South America spans 7,000 km from the equator to Patagonia and reaches altitudes of 7,000 m. Extreme cold, hypoxia, and low bioproductivity impose a distinct set of challenges to human survival and reproduction. This adaptive setting has inspired considerable archaeological and genetic research, which seeks to define the timing and nature of the adaptive process. Current evidence establishes that Paleoindian populations with fluted-point projectile technology first entered the highlands around 12.8 cal. ka. Paleoindian use of the highlands over the subsequent one thousand years appears to have been ephemeral. During the Early Archaic period (11.7–9.0 cal. ka), a culturally and genetically distinct population appears to have replaced the Paleoindian population in the highlands where they eventually established year-round settlement systems. Early Archaic cultural adaptations included large-mammal hunting, tuber foraging, animal-hide technology, logistical mobility, and egalitarian social structure. Potential genetic adaptations include selection for respiratory and cardiovascular strength and enhanced starch digestion capacity. Human adaptation to the Andean highlands thus appears to have been a multifaceted process that transpired over some four thousand years. Although current evidence favors a model of gradual adaptation, a more rapid adaptive process cannot yet be excluded. Paleoindian sites remain woefully sparse, which may indicate limited use or a sampling problem. And although recent genetic and isotopic analyses have been incisive, they are restricted to few samples from relatively late contexts. Continued investigations at the intersection of traditional archaeological methods and new biomolecular methods are likely to resolve outstanding questions soon and create opportunities to explore more-nuanced questions about the peopling of the high Andes.


Early States and Complex Societies in Eastern and Southern Africa  

Chapurukha M. Kusimba

How and in what ways did socially complex societies emerge on the East African coast and southern Africa? Scholarship has shown that elite investment in interregional trade and in extractive technologies, monopolization of wealth-creating resources, and warfare may have played a key role in the emergence of early states. To what extent was elite and non-elite engagement in local, regional, and transcontinental economic networks crucial to development of social complexity in eastern and southern Africa? Extensive research on the eastern coast of Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) and southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa) has yielded adequate data to enable a discussion on the trajectories of the evolution of social complexity and the state. So far, three crucial factors: (a) trade, (b) investment in extractive technologies, and (c) elite monopolization of wealth-creating resources coalesced to propel the region toward greater interaction and complexity. Major transformations in the form and increase of household size, clear differences in wealth and status, and settlement hierarchies occurred toward the end of the first millennium ad. Regional scholarship posits that elite control of internal and external trade infrastructure, restricted access to arable land and accumulation of surplus, manipulation of religious ideology, and exploitation of ecological crises were among the major factors that contributed to the rise of the state. Could these factors have also favored investment and use of organized violence as a means to gain access to and monopolize access to information and wealth-creating resources? Scholarship in the 21st century favors the notion that opportunistic use of ideological and ritual power enabled a small elite initially composed of elders, ritual specialists, and technical specialists to control the regional political economy and information flows. The timing of these transformations was continent-wide and date to the last three centuries of the first millennium ad. By all measures, the evidence points to wealth accumulation through trade, tribute, and investment in agrarianism, pastoralism, and mining.


Earthen Tumuli Archaeology in West Africa  

Sonja Magnavita

Earthen tumuli are a special type of grave that is widespread all over the world. In West Africa, they belong to a type of monument that attracted archaeological interest at the turn of the 20th century. West African burial mounds underwent the greatest wave of archaeological excavations in the first half of the 20th century, but owing to difficult excavation conditions and technical-logistical challenges on the one hand and an increasing interest in the study of prehistoric settlement and economy on the other, attention to earthen tumuli research declined significantly in the second half of the 20th century. In the early 21st century, burial mounds are understood as representative individual or collective tombs that may offer insight into the social structure—or what was intended to be mediated by it—of part of the late prehistoric and early historic society in diverse regions of West Africa. However, an integration of archaeological evidence on particular funerary monuments such as tumuli with simpler graves for the general community and the living, crafting, and economic activities of everyday life has yet to occur in West African archaeology.


Eastern African Stone Age  

Yonatan Sahle

The Stone Age record is longer and better documented in eastern Africa. Archaeological and fossil evidence derives particularly from sites within the Rift Valley of the region, often with secure radiometric age estimates. Despite a relatively late start and disproportionate focus on earlier periods and open-air sites within the rift, scientific research into the region’s Stone Age record continues to play a central role in our understanding of human evolution. Putative stone tools and cutmarked bones from two Late Pliocene (3.6–2.58 million years ago or Ma) contexts are exclusive to eastern Africa, as is conclusive evidence for these by 2.5 Ma. The earliest indisputable technological traces appear in the form of simple flakes and core tools as well as surface-modified bones. It is not clear what triggered this invention, or whether there was a more rudimentary precursor to it. Neither is it certain which hominin lineage started this technology, or if it hunted or only scavenged carcasses. Well-provenienced archaeological occurrences predating 2.0 Ma are limited to sites in Ethiopia and Kenya, becoming more common across eastern Africa and beyond only later. By 1.75 Ma, lithic technologies that included heavy-duty and large cutting tools appeared in Ethiopian and Kenyan localities. Several details about this technological tradition are still inadequately understood, although its appearance in eastern Africa roughly coincides with that of Homo erectus/ergaster. By far the longest-lived Stone Age tradition, hominins with such technologies successfully inhabited high-altitude environments as early as 1.5 Ma, and expanded within and beyond Africaeven earlier. Hunting and use of fire probably started in the earlier part of this technological tradition. Small-sized and highly diverse tool forms gradually and variably started to replace heavy-duty and large cutting tools beginning c. 300 thousand years ago (ka). Conventional wisdom associates this technological and behavioral shift with the rise of Homo sapiens, although the oldest undisputed representatives of our species continued to use large cutting tools in eastern Africa after 200 ka. In addition to small retouched tools, often on products from prepared cores, significant innovations such as hafting and ranged weaponry emerged during the length of this technological tradition. Increasingly complex sociocultural behaviors, including mortuary practices, mark the later part of this period in eastern Africa. The consolidation of such skills and behaviors, besides ecological/demographic dynamics, may have enabled the ultimately decisive Out-of-Africa dispersal of our species, from eastern Africa, 50–80 ka. Even smaller and more diverse stone tool forms and other sociocultural innovations evolved in many areas of eastern Africa by 50 ka. Miniaturization and diversification allowed for the adoption of more complex technologies, including intentional blunting and microlithization. Some of these were used as parts of sophisticated composite implements, such as the bow and arrow. Complex behaviors involving personal ornamentation, symbolism, and rituals that resembled the lifeways of ethnographically known hunter-gatherer populations were similarly adopted. These dynamics eventually led to the development of new technological and socioeconomic systems marked by the inception of agriculture and attendant lifeways.


Economies of Advice  

Deborah James and Insa Koch

Because of academic divisions of labor, anthropologists have come late to the study of the changing landscape of welfare and advice provisions in Euro-America (and beyond). However, this study is crucial to understanding contemporary economies. Attention to the increasing informalization, hybridization, plurality, and complexity of welfare-care-advice provisions in the context of 21st-century austerity in Europe challenges the widely held view of how state bureaucracies operate. The corollaries are the difficulties in accessing what help is available (hence the increasing need for advice) and an increase in grass-roots mutual aid and activism to supplement, and in some cases even supplant, state advice provisions.


Educational Anthropology and Engaged Approaches to Teaching and Learning  

Fredy Rodríguez-Mejía

Since the field’s early years, anthropology has been concerned with processes of teaching and learning. While early anthropological works were comparative in nature—examining schooling systems around the world in relation to those in US society—scholars gradually began to focus more on educational issues in the US. Efforts to bring together the works of scholars of pedagogy and anthropologists slowly morphed into what we now call “educational anthropology” or “anthropology and education.” In tracing the history of the relationship of anthropology and education, scholars have examined how different historical moments have shaped anthropology’s development as a profession, discipline, and specialization. Different publications have focused on exploring anthropology’s transformation following World War II. Funding from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation contributed to the growth of anthropology as a discipline and profession and helped bolster its role as an academic specialization. The growth of social mobilization in the 1960s, which highlighted issues of inequality, racial discrimination, and political crises, also contributed to a growth in students majoring in anthropology to study these issues. The rise in undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology further helped to increase the establishment of anthropology departments across the United States and the allocation of public funding to improve pedagogical approaches. In the same vein, educational anthropology contributed to the examination of teaching/learning processes but also looking at education in relationship to broader social issues (e.g., inequality, culture, gender, identity). Since the 1980s, the development of educational anthropology has occurred in parallel with other academic efforts to improve instructional approaches. The scholarship of teaching and learning for instance, has focused on exploring different pedagogical approaches in higher education with the purpose of improving teaching methodologies to enhance student learning. Some of these approaches include active learning, engaged learning, and service learning. In the realm of innovative educational approaches, community service learning has focused on establishing long-term partnerships between universities and communities. Such collaborative settings exhibit an overlap with undergraduate anthropological approaches to education, helping to introduce students to the intricacies of social issues as they are experienced in actual communities.


Encountering Tourism  

Valerio Simoni

Tourism affects the lives of an increasing number of people across the world and has been growing and diversifying immensely since the turn of the 21st century. Anthropological approaches to tourism have also expanded from the early contributions of the 1970s, which tended to focus on the nature of tourism and its “impact” on peripheral host communities. These first interventions see anthropologists theorizing tourism as a “secular ritual,” studying its workings as a process of “acculturation,” and countering macroeconomic views of tourism’s potential for the economic development of peripheral societies by underscoring instead its neocolonial and imperialist features. Tourism is linked to the exacerbation of center-periphery dependencies, seen as an agent of cultural commoditization and responsible for the promotion and dissemination of stereotypical images of people and places. Moving beyond the impact paradigm, which has the disadvantage of portraying tourism as an external, disembedded, and imposed force on a passive population, constructivist approaches highlight its creative appropriations and integral role in the reinvention of culture and traditions. Anthropologists pay attention to the varied range of actors and agencies involved in tourism, accounting for the multi-scalar dimensions of this phenomenon and the uneven circulation of images, discourses, and resources it engenders. Tourism exerts a powerful global influence on how alterity and difference are framed and understood in the contemporary world and contributes to the valorization and dissemination of particular views of culture, identity, and heritage. Tourism is increasingly intertwined with processes of heritage-making, whose study helps advance anthropological reflections on cultural property, material culture, and the memorialization of the past. A key source of livelihood for a growing number of people worldwide, tourism is also becoming more and more associated with development projects in which applied anthropologists are also enrolled as experts and consultants. The study of the tourism-development nexus continues to be a key area of theoretical innovation and has helped advance anthropological debates on North–South relations, dominant responses to poverty and inequality, and their entanglements with neoliberal forms of governance. Given its diffuse and distributed character, tourism and touristification have been approached as forms of ordering that affect and restructure an ever-growing range of entities, and whose effects are increasingly difficult to tease out from concomitant societal processes. The ubiquitous implementations of tourism policies and projects, the influx of tourists, and the debates, reactions, and resistances these generate underscore, however, the importance of uncovering the ways tourism and its effects are being concretely identified, invoked, acted upon, and confronted by its various protagonists. Research on tourism has the potential to contribute to disciplinary debates on many key areas and notions of concern for anthropology. Culture, ethnicity, identity, alterity, heritage, mobility, labor, commerce, hospitality, intimacy, development, and the environment are among the notions and domains increasingly affected and transformed by tourism. The study of tourism helps understand how such transformations occur, uncovering their features and orientations, while also shedding light on the societal struggles that are at stake in them. The analysis of past and current research shows the scope of the theoretical and methodological debates and of the realms of intervention to which anthropological scholarship on tourism can contribute. .


Energy Anthropology Scholarship, Practice, and Advocacy  

Mari Clarke

Although anthropologists have described, analyzed, and theorized about energy and culture for decades, in the 21st century there has been a tremendous increase in ethnographic research and public engagement on a wide range of energy issues. Human-induced global climate threats along with activist calls for action are increasingly challenging anthropologists around the globe to rethink their roles, methods, and paradigms. Anthropologists are engaging in energy research, public debates, and action on energy policies, extraction processes, offshore oil, nuclear waste and power plant meltdowns, energy consumption, failing electrical grids, renewable energy, and the people and environments they impact. Emerging from this growing engagement is an international, globalized anthropology of energy, with diverse, interdisciplinary branches linking to the humanities, information sciences, semiotics, public policy, climate sciences, energy institutes, environmental health, geospatial sciences, engineering, science and technology, and other disciplines. Energy anthropology has spawned primary energy source–specific anthropologies of energy for coal, oil, and gas (a subset of which is the anthropology of fracking); nuclear energy, hydropower; bioenergy; solar energy; wind energy; and geothermal energy as well the electricity generated from many of these primary sources. Anthropologists conducting ethnographic research, policy analysis, advocacy, and activism for these various anthropologies of energy have employed a wide range of theoretical frameworks and constructs. A few examples include social practice theory, critical global ecologies, environmental justice, political ecology, feminist political ecology, institutional economics, game theory, critical race theory, postcolonial theory, and settler colonialism. At the same time, there is a trend away from grand, abstract, explanatory theories to focus on contextual details in power relationships, differing conceptualizations of energy, and specific impacts of the various energy regimes on communities and their environments. Concepts that have emerged in energy anthropology analyses, such as extractivism, petrocultures, energyscapes, energopower, energopolitics, hydrosocial territories, cultural flows, aeolian politics, radiogenic communities, nuclearity, and nuclear colonialism, are explained in the sections highlighting the range of issues and approaches in specific anthropologies of energy. A number of common issues of concern cross-cut anthropological work on the different primary energy sources and electricity. The links between energy and political and economic power are the focus of a significant amount of energy anthropology. This focus ranges from intercountry power dynamics such as those between Paraguay and Brazil, over energy generated by the Itaipu Dam, to state deployment of electricity to extend territorial control within Turkey. It includes state-foreign company collusion to push Indigenous and minority people from lands wanted for hydropower dams, wind farms, solar farms, geothermal power plants, or tar sands oil extraction in many countries. A number of the analyses examine colonial, postcolonial, and settler colonialism exploiting resources and people and expropriating their lands. Also of concern are inequalities based on race, gender, caste, minority, or ethnic status that are caused or exacerbated by energy production and distribution. For example, high-caste elites in India deny electricity access to low-caste households; women have more limited access than men to the grid in Kenya; and electricity powers the mines in Zambia but not the homes of the minority people displaced by the construction of the dam that powers the mines, or the communities disrupted and displaced by the mining operations. Energy anthropologists also have focused on the exploitation of Indigenous and minority groups for uranium mining and milling in Africa and the US Southwest with no protection from radiation. They have shed light on the human impacts of nuclear testing over many Pacific Islands and biomedical research that was conducted to investigate the impacts of these tests without the consent of the impacted people. They also have examined the impacts of the mechanization of mining that has left miners without livelihoods in many countries. Other issues explored in energy anthropology include the impact of energy extraction and production on the health of people and the environment; differing conceptions of and discourse about various types of energy and their uses; the impact of electricity on social, economic, cultural, and political life; and community resistance to various forms of exergy extraction. Energy anthropologists work in universities and associated energy research centers, energy think tanks, government agencies and congressional offices dealing with energy policy, international multilateral and bilateral agencies with energy and climate change programs, national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and energy industries. They engage in energy ethnography; critical analysis of energy practices and programs; energy policymaking and policy analysis; energy program assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation; energy product design; energy advocacy; and energy activism.


Epigenetics and Applied Anthropology  

Charles H. Klein

Since Francis Crick and James D. Watson’s discovery of DNA in 1953, researchers, policymakers, and the general public have sought to understand the ways in which genetics shapes human lives. A milestone in these efforts was the completion of the Human Genome Project’s (HGP) sequencing of Homo sapiens’ nearly three million base pairs in 2003. Yet, despite the excitement surrounding the HGP and the discovery of the structural genetic underpinnings of several debilitating diseases, the vast majority of human health outcomes have not been linked to a single gene. Moreover, even when genes have been associated with particular diseases (e.g., breast and colon cancer), it is not well understood why certain genetically predisposed individuals become ill and others do not. Nor has the HGP’s map provided sufficient information to understand the actual functioning of the human genetic code, including the role of noncoding DNA (“junk DNA”) in regulating molecular genetic processes. In response, a growing number of scientists have shifted their attention from structural genetics to epigenetics, the study of how genes express themselves in particular situations and environments. Anthropologists play roles in these applications of epigenetics to real-world settings. Their new theoretical frameworks unsettle the nature-versus-nurture binary and support biocultural anthropological research demonstrating how race becomes biology and embodies social inequalities and health disparities across generations. Ethnographically grounded case studies further highlight the diverse epigenetic logics held by healthcare providers, researchers, and patient communities and how these translations of scientific knowledge shape medical practice and basic research. The growing field of environmental epigenetics also offers a wide range of options for students and practitioners interested in applying the anthropological toolkit in epigenetics-related work.


Ethnoarchaeology of Cattle in Zimbabwe and Surrounds  

Plan Shenjere-Nyabezi

Iron Age archaeological research in Zimbabwe and surrounds has shifted from traditional concerns with culture histories and reconstruction of the sociopolitical and economic organization. Archaeologists have become concerned with a wider range of issues such as ritual, the meanings of material culture as well as the ideological backgrounds and contexts within which societies produced and reproduced themselves, and how archaeological invisibles may inform different aspects of the organization and development of past cultures. The quest to read more into the material remains from the past in context, beyond their materiality, was the inspiration behind the development of ethnoarchaeology. It is against this backdrop that the study of faunal remains from Iron Age sites in southern Africa, particularly those of cattle, has been shifting from analysis and interpretation of the bones, from a subsistence-economic-organization point of view, to attempts to read more from this class of archaeological data. Here, the contemporary Bantu cattle-keeping societies have been the subject of studies aimed at gathering data that may be usable in engaging with the bone remains from archaeological sites. The ethnoarchaeological approaches have initiated a new methodological dimension to the study of faunal remains. Gender studies have been one of the most important areas of concern in archaeology over the past five decades. In this regard, cattle-based ethnoarchaeological studies in southern Africa have opened opportunities for alternative ways of thinking about cattle ownership and sociopolitical organization and development in the past. Here, the traditional perceptions and interpretations of cattle as an exclusively male domain have been questioned as it has emerged that women would in fact have been active players in the cattle world. Within the context of the archaeological interest in ritual, ethnoarchaeological studies have also been informative from various dimensions where indications are that the cattle-bone remains that are recovered from archaeological sites could have resulted from a variety of ritual activities, rather than food alone. Ultimately, such ethnoarchaeological studies in the region have persuaded archaeologists to begin to think about cattle bones beyond the obvious.


The Ethnoarchaeology of Coffee in Ethiopia  

Worku Derara Megenassa

Coffea arabica, the most widely consumed variety of the plant globally, is indigenous to the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia. However, archaeological data on the origins and domestication of the plant in its home of origin is very scarce. Likewise, historical accounts that provide first-hand information on the early cultivation and consumption of the plant, especially for the southern half, are remarkably rare, and the first mention of coffee in local sources itself dates back to the 16th century. Much of the lore of coffee in Ethiopia is still handed down orally and our knowledge about the earliest consumption of the plant is, thus, veiled in mystery. In this context, ethnoarchaeology can be a key method to approach the origins of coffee cultivation and contribute to our knowledge on issues related to its production, consumption, and cultural role. Thus, ethnoarchaeological research on the cultivation and consumption of coffee among the Kafecho, the Majangir, and the Oromo living in southwestern Ethiopia demonstrates the presence of great variation in the degree of human involvement in the four major types of coffee cultivation systems (garden coffee, semi-forest coffee, forest coffee, and plantation coffee) known in Ethiopia. They shed light on the diverse possible scenarios of the initial process of domestication. From a technological point of view, some of the traditional wooden agricultural implements employed in the cultivation of the plant can probably be traced back to the period predating agriculture or to the onset of agriculture. As a social beverage, coffee is consumed to buttress relations between neighbors or to create otherness and delimit boundaries between different groups. In the early 21st century, the uses of coffee in different rituals and ceremonies suggest that the prime motive behind the initial domestication of the plant, unlike other food crops, could be associated with religious and social needs.


Ethnographic Explorations of Intellectual Property  

Rosemary J. Coombe and Susannah Chapman

Ethnographic research into intellectual property (IP) gained traction in the mid-1990s. During this period international trade agreements mandated that all states introduce minimum IP protections, property rights in intangible goods were expanded to encompass new subject areas, international Indigenous Peoples’ human rights were being negotiated, and protecting biodiversity became a global policy concern. Anthropologists considered IP extension in terms of the processes of commodification the law enabled, the cultural incommensurability of the law’s presuppositions in various societies, the implications of these rights for disciplinary research and publication ethics, and the modes of subjectification and territorialization that the enforcement of such laws engendered. Recognizing that IP clearly constrains and shapes the circulation of goods through the privatization of significant resources, critical anthropological examinations of Western liberal legal binary distinctions between public and private goods also revealed the forms of dispossession enabled by presuming a singular cultural commons. Anthropologists showed the diversity of publics constituted through authorized and unauthorized reproduction and circulation of cultural goods, exploring the management of intangible cultural goods in a variety of moral economies as well as the construction and translation of tradition in new policy arenas. The intersection of IP and human rights also prompted greater disciplinary reflexivity with respect to research ethics and publication practices. Analyzing how IP protections are legitimated and the activities that their enforcement delegitimizes, ethnography illustrated how the law creates privileged and abject subjectivities, reconfigures affective relationships between people and places, and produces zones of policing and discipline in processes of territorialization.


Ethnographies of Water  

Sandy Toussaint

Water in all its permanent, temporary, colored, salt and freshwater forms, is vital and life-sustaining to human and other living species. Ethnographic research has, by necessity, always included water in all its variations, whereas ethnographies of water describe and analyze not only accounts about water’s intrinsic value to life, but also how different societies conceptualize, sustain, use, control, and attribute meaning to it. Water as a cultural ethnographic lens reveals how both the presence and absence of water is managed, as well as how it is believed to have originated and should be cared for. Practices such as the regular enactment of religious rituals, the development of irrigation, origin narratives, understandings of hydrological movements, and the problem of drought and flood, all convey a complex of water-inspired stories. Water’s relationship to other elements—air, wind, fire, cloud, and smoke—are also part of the depth and breadth embedded in ethnographies of water, constituting a richness of narratives, especially when explored from country to country, and place to place, as new generations and circumstances across time and space converge. These inevitably include the impact of global warming, the technology revolution, and globalization, alongside the curiosity, rigor, and insight that is the long-term hallmark of anthropological inquiry.



Mary Odell Butler

Evaluation anthropology is an organic synthesis of evaluation and anthropology in which each reinforces the other. Anthropology contributes the theory of culture as a primary mode of human adaptation, ethnography, and a methodology that is sensitive to the context embeddedness of human activity. The evaluation side adds the rigorous science needed to evaluations to be credible to decision makers. These include analyses and conclusions in evidence that can be linked to evidence and to develop a rationale that permits evaluation users to reconstruct the arguments underlying conclusions. Program evaluations are concerned with the value of human interventions in achieving important social goals. They form the evidence base for maintaining, changing, or eliminating programs, decisions that affect communities, careers, finances, and the welfare of both staff and clients. There are special ethical concerns in evaluations because of the risk to program staff providing value information about their agencies and programs. Confidentiality is critical because programs are a “small world” in which opinions and speech mannerisms can permit identification by those who work in the same or similar programs. Thus, evaluators must be cautious about the use of quotes, position descriptions, and attributions to avoid professional damage to program staff and clients. Program evaluation has become an important field for practicing anthropologists. Anthropologists who wish to do evaluations should network with other anthropologists doing evaluations as well as organizations that employ evaluators, read and attend seminars on evaluation theories and methods, and consider adding skills such as network analysis, economics, and decision theory that will add to their value as members of evaluation teams.


Experimental Archaeology  

Silje Evjenth Bentsen

Scientific definitions of “experimental archaeology” emphasize key words such as exploring, testing, and imitation. Archaeological data and observations are key elements in experiments, whether the researcher is testing hypotheses derived from archaeological deposits or objects, innovative approaches to documentation and excavation, or the formation of and post-depositional processess affecting the archaeological record. Experiments can be conducted in sterile laboratory settings, with strict control of variables and materials, or in actualistic settings replicating the conditions of the prehistoric settings. Laboratory and actualistic experiments are complementary, allowing testing of different aspects of hypotheses and materials, and it is often essential to explore an archaeological phenomenon through experiments in both settings. Studying fire-cracked rocks and heating of different rock types, for example, can benefit from both heating experiments in a laboratory furnace, allowing observations of temperature thresholds for thermal alterations, and an open-air fire, allowing recording of how a live fire with temperature changes and smoke affects rocks. A third type of experiment is digital, made possible through virtual models and allowing one to replicate and test multiple variables within a controlled setting. Experimental archaeology also includes non-academic approaches to exploring the past. It contains elements educational both for the person(s) conducting the experiments and for people watching, reading, or in other ways learning about the experiment and its results. Some experiments are experiential—that is, re-enactments or performances. These re-enactments can be part of an educational program, such as demonstrating prehistoric living conditions at an open-air museum, or they may be initiated by, and important to, the experience of the re-enactors. Experiential archaeology has elements of perceived time travel and can be a recreational activity.


Faunal Analysis in African Archaeology  

Jessica C. Thompson

Faunal analysis (or zooarchaeology) in African archaeology is the identification, analysis, and interpretation of the remains of animal bones recovered from archaeological sites in Africa. Its methods and theoretical underpinnings derive from archaeology, paleontology, biology, and geochemistry, and they extend across all faunal categories. Much of the work in African faunal analysis concerns large-bodied mammalian taxa, but the approach encompasses analysis of fish, shellfish, birds, reptiles, and indeed all animal remains found in association with archaeological sites. The diversity of research encompassed within faunal analysis is also especially high in Africa, where the earliest reported archaeological site is far older than the earliest archaeological site outside of Africa. The extra time depth affords the African archaeological record a wide arena of research questions that are answerable using faunal data. Major themes in African faunal analysis include the origins of unique components of human diet and hunting ability, reconstruction of the transition from hunting and gathering to food production, and analysis of the historical use of animals in trade, exchange, and social status.