121-140 of 261 Results


Heritage, Archaeology, and Local Communities in Sudan  

Rebecca Bradshaw and Geoff Emberling

As a discipline with colonial origins, archaeology is increasingly addressing ways in which it has supported historical and current inequalities. One essential aspect of this work is engaging in conversations and collaborations with local communities, particularly to understand varying conceptions of heritage. Another is through attention to the benefits that derive from archaeological research—does fieldwork primarily support (foreign) archaeologists and their careers, or do local communities and professional colleagues also benefit? These issues have been developing particularly rapidly in Sudan, where development and international funding have supported a number of fieldwork projects in various forms of community engagement.


Heritage Conservation in West Africa  

Ishanlosen Odiaua

The conservation of heritage in west Africa is carried out at different levels—local and national. Communities continue to have the primary responsibility for heritage conservation, as the custodians of such heritage. The variety of heritage in the region, as in other parts of Africa, is largely assured by communal practices or traditional management systems, structured through various levels of community participation, sometimes gendered, with each member of society contributing to the conservation of a common cultural good. These cultural management systems operate contemporaneously with the official government systems set in place to reflect the international heritage discourse, whose practitioners promote it as superior to the traditional systems. However, these two systems are not harmonized, and the alienation of communities from the mainstream discourse could be detrimental to the conservation of heritage. The increase in urbanization and infrastructural development across the region, in line with the aspirations of national and regional development programs, has an impact on cultural heritage and its conservation. With efforts underway to be more inclusive, the traditional and official systems should both be encouraged to innovate and develop systems that are best adapted for ensuring the effective management of west African heritage.


Heritage Management in East Africa  

Herman O. Kiriama

The countries of Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan geographically lie on the eastern part of the African continent and are member states of the East African Community (EAC), a regional economic bloc. These countries, as many other countries in the world, have important heritage places that are significant to their communities. As a result, these countries have developed various methods of managing this heritage. Heritage management should be understood as caring for a heritage site without compromising its significance so that present and future generations can continue enjoying it. Consequently, countries around the world have put in place various legal regimes that enable them to manage and protect their heritage. Though the East African countries listed belong to the same geographical region and economic bloc, they had differing colonial experiences and, therefore, their legislation regimes, including that governing heritage, may not be exactly the same. Kenya and Uganda, for instance, were British colonies, whereas Tanzania started as a Germany colony but later ended up as a British Protectorate. Rwanda and Burundi also started as Germany colonies but ended up as Belgian colonies. South Sudan, once part of the larger Republic of Sudan, was a British colony. Common to all these countries, however, is the fact that the colonial management system laid more emphasis on the protection of tangible as opposed to intangible heritage, and it also ignored and in most cases destroyed the indigenous management systems that local communities had hitherto used to manage their heritage. Despite gaining their independence from the colonial governments in the early 1960s, these countries, have however, apart from Rwanda, continued to use the inherited colonial legal systems. It is now widely accepted within heritage management circles that unless indigenous heritage management systems are embraced, the local communities tend to feel alienated from their heritage and thus in most cases tend to disregard, ignore, or in some cases destroy the heritage site as it no longer belongs to them but to the state; the end result is that pressure is put on the heritage as the national government institutions do not have adequate financial and human capacity to manage all the heritage resources in their jurisdiction.


Heritage Management in West Africa  

Caleb Folorunso

The definition of heritage in West Africa must adopt a wider perspective of incorporating tangible and intangible heritage as recognized and defined by UNESCO. Generally, the West African region does not feature monumental heritage as in Europe and the Americas. The few monumental heritage properties belong to the historic period and are located in the Sahel zone (Mali in particular), while the coastal regions possess monumental heritage properties that were essentially relics of the period of European contact and colonialism (Benin Republic, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal). Heritage resources in West Africa are therefore essentially discrete and nondiscrete prehistoric and historic archaeological sites which include rock shelters, relics of ancient settlements, mounds, earthworks, industrial relics such as furnaces and surface finds, isolated historic buildings and spaces, and tangible (traditional architecture and artifacts) and intangible (language, poetry, songs, dances, festivals, beliefs, and value systems) ethnographic resources. Some studies in the 2010s have included heritage resources of all archival materials such as recorded audiovisuals of events and entertainments of the colonial and early postcolonial periods. Heritage management in the West African region has been problematic due to various factors that could be both historical and attitudinal, which include colonialism, intrusion of foreign religions and ideologies, economic and social conditions, insufficient and noneffective legal and policy frameworks for protection and conservation of heritage resources, and a general lack of awareness and interest in matters of heritage by the populace. In spite of these factors, some efforts have been made toward managing heritage in ways that can be interrogated. Government efforts at promoting heritage are more evident in the areas of cultural festivals, dance, and music with the establishment of cultural troupes at various political and administrative levels, thus creating the impression that heritage is limited to intangible cultural resources. Museums are few and far in between, priceless artifacts are still looted and illegally exported to foreign museums to join those looted during the colonial era, and facilities are limited and not standard, while the staff is poorly trained and unmotivated. In the face of expanding infrastructural developments and urbanization, the most appropriate management strategy and practice would be conservation through recording archaeological sites and historic properties.


History, Anthropology, and Rethinking Modern Disciplines  

Saurabh Dube

Pervasive presumptions in the human sciences project anthropology and history as taken-for-granted divisions of knowledge, whose relationship is then tracked as being vexed but constructive. At the same time, it is more useful today to rethink history and anthropology as disciplines of modernity – in their formation, elaboration, and transformation. To begin with, going back to the Enlightenment and Romanticism, historical and anthropological knowledge each appeared as mutually if variously shaped by overarching distinctions between the “primitive/native” and the “civilized/modern.” It followed that the wide-ranging dynamic of empire and nation, race and reason, and analytical and hermeneutical orientations underlay the emergence of anthropology and history as institutionalized enquiries in the second half of the nineteenth century. Further, across much of the twentieth century and through its wider upheavals, it was by attempting uneasily to break with these genealogies yet never fully even escaping their impress that history and anthropology staked their claims as modern disciplines. This entailed especially their discrete expressions of time and space, culture and change, tradition and modernity. Finally, the mutual makeovers of history and anthropology since the 1970s have thought through the formidable conceits of both these disciplines while reconsidering questions of theory and method, object and subject, and the archive and the field. Based upon salient intersections with a range of critical understandings – for instance, postfoundational and postcolonial perspectives, considerations of gender and sexuality, and subaltern and decolonial frames – the newer emphases have imaginatively articulated issues of historical consciousness and marginal communities, colony and nation, empire and modernity, race and slavery, alterity and identity, indigeneity and heritage, and the state and the secular. At the same time, considering that such disciplinary changes are themselves embedded within wider shifts in social worlds, the haunting terms of the antinomies between the “savage/native” and the “civilized/modern” unsurprisingly find newer expressions within ever emergent hierarchies of otherness.


Hoarding and Saving  

Gustav Peebles

The negative connotations of “hoards” has blinded us to their actual ubiquity, bringing to the fore only the most egregious exemplars, such as dusty piles of gold or junk. Whether valued or valueless, hoards are often seen as harboring dark forces of anti-sociality and death. But anthropology has far too much data on the power of anti-sociality and death in society to cast a simplistic gaze upon hoarding. Instead, hoarding needs to be more carefully defined by investigating its dialectical relationship to saving. The two are inextricably linked in an ongoing effort to reproduce and grow the social world via the world of things. If hoards are frequently deemed “dead,” savings are frequently seen as “living.” Each needs the other in order to survive, suggesting that the cycle of birth, death, decay, and rebirth that is known from the natural world may also be operative in the economic world. Surveying hoarding and saving from this angle amounts to a call to study the metaphysics of the economy as much as its physics. While material and monetary flows move in quantifiable and empirical ways, they carry with them a host of unquantifiable attachments and tethers that continually braid and unbraid the social worlds of which they form an integral part. Understanding the dialectic between hoarding and saving illuminates the threads and boundaries of this social fabric. In actuality, hoards are everywhere and may well be a human “universal”; that is, upon closer inspection, it is likely that all societies have methods for storing away unused and dead things for future use, so that they can one day be reactivated and thereby sustain a social world. Savings, however, are activated live things, consumed in the present, so that they may grow the future today. In this sense, hoarding and saving must be seen as two distinct methods of future orientation. Each carries the capacity to exist on a spectrum of perceived irrationality to rationality, even though popular perceptions often envision hoarding as a distinctly irrational stance toward the imagined future. Succinctly, saving is a process of projecting outward, away from a given self. The given self is casting its future out beyond the limits of the self and asking an outside Other to subsume the saving into its own growth process. Hoarding, by contrast, is a process of projecting inward, magnetically pulling the world of things back toward the given self and away from the risky terrain beyond. Hoarding, then, is a form of retention, a gathering in of things that are not allowed to be shared beyond the given self. Both practices are tied to questions about spatial and temporal boundaries, commoditization, social hierarchy, and a host of related topics that we often struggle to carefully define. Hoarding and saving, in short, help humans navigate the world and chart the future by forming people’s ever-shifting relationship to, and with, the world of things. The disciplines of economics and psychology have both dramatically ramped up their interests in hoards in recent decades, but they have yet to develop a shared discourse. Instead, they have bifurcated into two, highly telling foci of research. Economists are largely interested in the seemingly irrational hoarding of treasure by corporate bodies, whereas psychologists are largely interested in the seemingly irrational hoarding of trash by individual bodies. Insights from anthropological research brings treasure and trash into a unified totality as part of a general human phenomenon of building vivacious social worlds through the vivacious world of things.


Hominin Taxic Diversity  

Bernard Wood, Dandy Doherty, and Eve Boyle

The clade (a.k.a. twig of the Tree of Life) that includes modern humans includes all of the extinct species that are judged, on the basis of their morphology or their genotype, to be more closely related to modern humans than to chimpanzees and bonobos. Taxic diversity with respect to the hominin clade refers to evidence that it included more than one species at any one time period in its evolutionary history. The minimum requirement is that a single ancestor-descendant sequence connects modern humans with the hypothetical common ancestor they share with chimpanzees and bonobos. Does the hominin clade include just modern human ancestors or does it also include non-ancestral species that are closely related to modern humans? It has been suggested there is evidence of taxic diversity within the hominin clade back to 4.5 million years ago, but how sound is that evidence? The main factor that would work to overestimate taxic diversity is the tendency for paleoanthropologists to recognize too many taxa among the site collections of hominin fossils. Factors that would work to systematically underestimate taxic diversity include the relative rarity of hominins within fossil faunas, the realities that many parts of the world where hominins could have been living are un- or under-sampled, and that during many periods of human evolutionary history, erosion rather than deposition predominated, thus reducing or eliminating the chance that animals alive during those times would be recorded in the fossil record. Finally, some of the most distinctive parts of an animal (e.g., pelage, vocal tract, scent glands) are not likely to be preserved in the hominin fossil record, which is dominated by fragments of teeth and jaws.


Household Archaeology in South Asia  

Jaya Menon

The house has stood proxy for the household in South Asian archaeology. Houses belonging to various periods in South Asia’s past have been cleared and excavated since the early 20th century. Urban centers such as Mohenjodaro (Bronze Age), Bhita, Sirkap, and Indor Khera (early historic), as well as Vijayanagara and Sultan Ghari (medieval and early modern) have revealed a variety of patterns of house forms and settlement layouts. The form of the dwelling provides information about familial, household, and community precepts on housing, while access to and within houses tell us about those who used these spaces. In turn, house forms give hints toward less tangible aspects, such as inequality or privacy. Archaeologists have also used artifacts associated with these houses to understand the range of activities undertaken by the occupants of domestic spaces. The spatial disposition of houses in relation to one another has enabled archaeologists to explore specific sociospatial entities such as neighborhoods. A distinct morphological type, at Mohenjodaro, Bhir, and Sirkap, were blocks, comprising houses built up against each other, which were separated from other similarly constituted blocks. These blocks were interpreted as neighborhoods, composed of close kin or those of similar ethnic origins, or may have constituted large, multiroomed, elite residences. Resources and infrastructure, such as shrines, wells, and drains, can be understood as provided, built, and shared at multiple levels of the household, the neighborhood, and the settlement. Overwhelmingly, discussions of house forms at Mohenjodaro, and artifacts in context, have contributed toward an analysis of households and neighborhoods. The potential of this site arose from the extensive archaeological exposures of structures, labeled as houses, in the 1920s. The kind of archaeological work that has been undertaken at this site since the 1980s, using older excavated data, should point the way to investigating other sites. However, an archaeology of households and neighborhoods in South Asia requires the identification of hitherto untouched sites where focused work through horizontal exposures can enable comparisons between domestic spaces. It also needs multidisciplinary work that allows the site to be understood within a larger context. More important, the framing of new projects explicitly conceived within social archaeology is required, by posing new questions about communities, group identity, membership, and spatial location, as well as access to resources. Perhaps only then can it be said that South Asian archaeology has progressed to understanding critical social concerns of past communities.


Howiesons Poort  

Paloma de la Peña

The Howiesons Poort is a technological tradition within the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa. This technological tradition shows different characteristics, technical and symbolic (the engraving of ostrich eggshell containers, the appearance of engraved ochre, formal bone tool technology, compound adhesives for hafting and a great variability in hunting techniques), which only developed in an extensive manner much later in other parts of the world. Therefore, the African Middle Stone Age through the material of the Howiesons Poort holds some of the oldest symbolic and complex technologies documented in prehistory. For some researchers, the Howiesons Poort still represents an unusual and ephemeral technological development within the Middle Stone Age, probably related to environmental stress, and as such there are numerous hypotheses for it as an environmental adaptation, whereas for others, on the contrary, it implies that complex cognition, deduced from the elaborated technology and symbolic expressions, was fully developed in the Middle Stone Age.


Human and Environmental Interactions in Late Iron Age Kenya  

Freda Nkirote M'Mbogori

The Late Iron Age period in Kenya spans between 1000 BP and 200 BP. However, not much is known regarding this time period owing to the past direction of research in Kenya. Investigations concentrated on earlier archaeological periods due to the country’s richness in early human and technological evolution. As such the bias was not only in the research periods at the time but also, in the fact that, only those areas that were believed to yield such materials were explored. Most research was therefore conducted around the Kenyan Rift Valley until the late 1960s onwards, when the British Institute in Eastern Africa and others started to explore later archaeological and historical periods in the whole of Kenya. These researches, however, failed to recognize the evidence of mosaic in Iron Age sites, which was caused by complexities of diverse processes of replacement, admixture, interactions, and resistance in encounters between expanding and existing populations. Thus the name “Iron Age” for the period in question has been maintained denoting a period when iron was the most important or unique phenomenon, in total disregard of all the other social, political, and economic aspects. Use of oral traditions and genetic materials have, however, contributed greatly in filling the gaps, thus making it possible for archaeologists to understand the mosaic nature of archaeological materials resulting from interactions between populations who may have been culturally and socially distinct but lived during the same archaeological period. The available data show that the sites of this period range from open habitations, caves, and rock shelters to drystone structures, and that the human and environmental interactions were mutually beneficial to both. However, deeper understanding of land use and crop utilization is limited due to inadequate botanical datasets, since archaeobotanical recovery methods were rarely employed as a necessary direction of inquiry. This notwithstanding, as opposed to the environmental determinism theory, the populations of this period were not in sync with the environment, but rather, they were active participants who shaped it to suit their needs. Where resources such as water were not readily available, they improvised by tapping and managing them to suit their preferred occupations. Humans took advantage of natural landforms, climatic zones, and vegetation to shape different aspects of their lifestyles including economic subsistence, habitations, trade, and human-to-human interactions especially during environmental stress. Thus these populations must not be seen as helpless receivers from the environment, but active shapers and innovators of their lifestyles.


Human and Nonhuman Rights to Water  

Veronica Strang

All living kinds, human and nonhuman, require rights to water. A UN Declaration upholds rights to clean drinking water and basic sanitation for humans, and some environmental legislation seeks to assure minimal flows of water in ecosystems. However, such rights are situated within complex social and political relations that are often far from equal. The distribution and management of water is entangled in issues such as ethnicity, class, gender, and levels of enfranchisement, and is heavily dependent upon how beliefs and values about water are represented in dominant narratives. Although water has been regarded a “common good” for millennia, many forms of collective ownership of freshwater have been overridden by colonial appropriations and by attempts to enclose and privatize water resources and to reframe them as commercial assets. An accelerating global water crisis caused by climate change, intensifying farming, and the over-allocation of water resources reveals unsustainable pressures on freshwater ecosystems. There have been concomitant losses of access to water for less powerful human communities, and most particularly for nonhuman beings. As a result, approximately two hundred species become extinct every day. Widespread environmental degradation has caused indigenous communities to critique the exploitative practices of colonial societies and to promote alternate and more egalitarian visions of human-nonhuman relationships. Inspired by these alternate cultural beliefs and values, and sometimes in alliance with indigenous people, conservation organizations and environmental activists have sought ecological justice to protect nonhuman beings and their habitats. Many are demanding that the UN should declare “rights for nature” and that the International Court of Criminal Justice should define “ecocide” as an international crime. Anthropologists have challenged dominant dualisms about culture and nature, providing accounts of diverse cultural worldviews in which all living kinds inhabit a nonbifurcated world. They have underlined the fluid interelationalities between human and nonhuman beings and the material environment. Building on a strong disciplinary history of advocating for human rights, they are exploring ways to articulate nonhuman needs and interests, for example, in new forms of river catchment management. There is growing consensus about the need to encourage forms of “pan-species democracy” that will ensure that all living kinds have sufficient rights to water and to the conditions that enable them to flourish.


Hunter-Gatherer/Farmer Interactions in Uganda  

Elizabeth Kyazike

The coexistence of the Kansyore-Later Stone Age (LSA) hunter-gatherer and the Early Iron Age (EIA)-Urewe-farmer cultural materials in the same cultural deposits and environmental space can no longer be dismissed as accidental admixture. At Kansyore Island in western Uganda, it is clear that the Kansyore hunter-gatherer and Urewe-farmers are two cultural periods presumed to be widely separated in time and space but that coexist together in the same stratigraphic contexts suggesting interaction and coexistence. This implies that the line between the two is blurred. Therefore, the transition from hunting-gathering to farming was not linear but involved forward and backward movements and was not similar in all places but rather complex.


Hunter-Gatherer Women  

Marlize Lombard and Katharine Kyriacou

“Hunter-gatherer” refers to the range of human subsistence patterns and socio-economies since the Late Pleistocene (after about 126,000 years ago), some of which are still practiced in rare pockets across the globe. Hunter-gatherer research is centered on ethnohistorical records of the lifeways, economies, and interpersonal relationships of groups who gather field and wild foods and hunt for meat. Information collected in this way is cautiously applied to the Stone Age and Paleolithic archaeological records to inform on or build hypotheses about past human behaviors. Late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers possessed the behavioral, technological, and cognitive wherewithal to populate the globe. Hunter-gatherer groups are often relatively egalitarian regarding power and gender relationships. But, as is the case for all mammals, only females bear offspring. This biological reality has socioeconomic and behavioral implications when it comes to food supply. Whereas humans share the principles of the mammalian reproductive process, only humans evolved to occupy a unique cogni-behavioral niche in which we are able to outsmart other animal competition in the quest for survival on any given landscape. Since early on in our history, women of our species gave birth to relatively large-brained offspring with considerable cognitive potential compared to that of other animals. Key to this development is the consumption of specific foods, which contain brain-selective nutrients such as omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and trace elements including iron, iodine, copper, selenium, and zinc. Such nutrients are important for all peoples past and present. Ethnohistorical and nutritional evidence shows that edible plants and small animals, most often gathered by women, represent an abundant and accessible source of “brain foods.” This is in contrast to the “man the hunter” hypothesis where big-game hunting and meat-eating are seen as prime movers in the development of biological and behavioral traits that distinguish humans from other primates.



Jocelyn Marrow

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article. Even though hysteria is no longer a diagnostic category in Western medical systems, the phenomena to which it referred have remained productive of anthropological deliberation. This may be due to the dramatic and highly variable nature of hysterias and related afflictions as observed. Hysterias are shape-shifters, with signs and symptoms varying according to their historical and cultural niches. Further, hysterias demand notice and response from those who witness them. Interpretation is the sine qua non of hysteria, rendering it irresistible to vernacular and scholarly meaning-making. In the late 19th and early 20th century, hysteria was a diagnosis commonly given by physicians practicing in European and North American medical traditions to individuals (mostly women) whose wide-ranging motoric symptoms were thought to be caused by psychological distress. In the present, hysteria is no longer a medical diagnosis; it persists in common English language usage as a pejorative term to refer to excessive emotional displays. Contemporary medical diagnostics replace hysteria with a bevy of psychosomatic illness diagnoses, including conversion disorder, dissociative reaction, and functional neurological disorder, among others. There are at least three ways that anthropological scholarship engages with hysteria. The first, and historically earliest, applies the postulated psychodynamics of hysteria to explain spirit possession—the phenomenon in which an individual’s body is engulfed by that of a supernatural being such as the soul of a deceased human, a divinity, or a demon. This anthropological literature postulates that spirit possession involves altered states of consciousness, such as hypnosis or trance, to explain the belief that the self may be overwhelmed by a will not its own. The idea that another entity is speaking and acting in place of the host’s volition allows the host to express anger at injustices perpetrated against them. This genre of writing about hysteria and hysteria-like phenomena argues that it is a “weapon of the weak.” The second way in which scholarship engages with hysteria is through examining the politics of the labels “hysteria” and “hysterical,” and documenting how powerful people may deploy the label “hysteria” to disparage the complaints of marginalized or disempowered people. In these instances, anthropologists have examined the event, or series of events, to argue that the grievances provoking complaint are real and serious, rather than exaggerated or “all in the heads” of those making them. A third strand of research emerges from fieldwork in medical anthropology and examines the contemporary sociocultural contexts in which people are given hysteria-like diagnoses (such as conversion disorder or dissociative trance disorder) in clinical settings. These studies are based on fieldwork in diverse clinical settings relying upon Western medical categories and treatments.


Ideology and Practice in Academic Approaches to Language Revitalization  

Sarah Shulist

“Language revitalization” is an umbrella term that captures a range of interventions and forms of language planning that endeavor to improve the future prospects of Indigenous and minority languages, which have been marginalized through colonial violence and political and economic imperialism. The study of how best to provide this kind of support has become a vital topic across several disciplines within academia, including most obviously linguistics, but also education, Indigenous studies, and anthropology. Language revitalization in the 21st century constitutes not only a topic of analysis but also a community of practice in its own right, which is shaped by cultural norms, values, and activities. The community of practice constituted around the effort to support languages takes particular form in North American academic institutions, where Indigenous languages of the continent are the primary target for such interventions. As an area of work focusing heavily on language, revitalization initiatives rely on, transmit, and enhance specific language ideologies—culturally specific beliefs, values, and norms that not only help to articulate the value of language or different languages but also express different understandings of what language is, how it can or should be used, and what it means to speak in particular ways. While academic ways of understanding and discussing language are often treated as neutral, detached facts, they are in fact manifestations of language ideologies. These ideologies are expressed and transmitted within the ways that academic language revitalization work is accomplished, through the institutional structures (including university courses, training institutes, and other sites within academia) in which it is housed, and in the citational practices and narratives that are used to articulate and justify involvement in revitalization. Several core language ideological beliefs shape the practice of academic language revitalization. The housing of language revitalization primarily within linguistics courses and programs, as well as some of the historical trajectory through which thought about language loss has come into academic interest, influence the way that language, rather than speakers or community, is treated as the target for support. Practices that emphasize the numerical assessment of the level of threat that a language faces rely on specific formulations of how language connects to identity, the role of literacy and writing, and the relationship between language and national-level politics. The circulation of the outcomes of subjective assessment practices as quantitative statements promotes their entextualization as though they were objective facts. Additional major areas of power and political influence that intersect with the practice of language revitalization—including religious missionary activities, the environmental preservation movement, and Indigenous decolonization initiatives—all influence and transform expectations about language work; these influences are sometimes rendered invisible in the academic discussion. Recognizing and attuning to these ideologies within the practice of language revitalization and seeing the work as situated through researcher positionality is necessary for a full understanding of the role that academics can and do play in shaping the futures of Indigenous languages.


Implications of Ancient DNA for Understanding Human Evolution  

Sloan R. Williams

Ancient DNA (aDNA) studies have significantly changed anthropological perceptions of human evolution. The caves where many of the Eurasian archaic hominin remains have been found are particularly well suited for study as DNA preserves best at low temperature and humidity. This research has provided important information about our close relatives, the Neanderthals, and the Denisovans, a group previously unknown in the fossil record. Scientists have found traces of these, and perhaps other archaic hominin groups, in modern human genomes. A small but significant admixture or genetic exchange occurred among these groups with Neanderthal alleles being present in modern European and Asian people, while Denisovan alleles are confined to Asia and Oceania. No one knows exactly what happened to these archaic groups, but hybrid incompatibility, pathogen resistance, and population dynamics may have contributed to their disappearance. The ancient genetic sequences found in living people are not distributed uniformly throughout their genomes. Negative selection against archaic alleles may explain “archaic deserts” where these alleles are rare. In areas where archaic alleles are more common, both positive selection and genetic drift could explain these higher frequencies and why they are often difficult to distinguish from each other. Current work indicates that archaic alleles that confer resistance to disease and strengthen immune function are likely candidates for positive selection. Archaic alleles involved in phenotypic skin color variation are likely relatively neutral and more likely provide examples of genetic drift. Medically focused research has just begun to reveal the positive and negative effects that archaic alleles may have on human health. Human adaptation is ongoing, so genetic information obtained from archaeological contexts should provide otherwise unobtainable information about health and disease. The aDNA field will continue to grow as the technologies improve permitting access to genetic sequences from ever older samples and expanding the preservation conditions that can yield DNA.


Indigenous Anthropology  

Bernard Perley

Indigenous anthropology is an emergent praxis of Indigenous knowledge production that can be vaguely translated and tentatively identified as approximating anthropological enquiry in the Western sense of the social science. The decolonizing practices by Indigenous scholars have outlined contours of critical Indigenous praxis that seek to liberate Indigenous communities from colonial and settler hegemonies of knowledge production, dissemination of knowledges, and the ongoing constraints colonial systems of systemic racism have imposed on Indigenous peoples as a global phenomenon. The growing call for a world anthropology inadvertently imposes an uncritical ventriloquism on Indigenous peoples who are attempting to contribute to the discipline of anthropology from the situated perspectives of diverse Indigenous communities. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) provided a catalyzing moment for a global Indigeneity that brings the diverse experiences together for mutual consultation and strategic planning. Indigeneity as a global phenomenon also creates the potential for the discipline of anthropology to shed its colonial roots and consider the prospects for a vibrant anthropology that truly reflects a shared human experience and does not privilege one knowledge over another.



Michael Blim

Inequality in all its forms is common to human societies, and thus its understanding is part of the central mission of anthropology. Social structural elements such as race, class, gender, status, and caste have a decisive influence on human well-being and have been a persistent focus of inquiry over the course of more than a century of anthropological investigations. It is also fair to say that anthropologists over time have adopted as core values equal protection and equal opportunity for all peoples. These principles have been applied by extension most recently to sexual minorities, stateless refugees, and migrants.



Jörg Niewöhner

The notion of infrastructure commonly refers to the networked technical support structures that facilitate the provision of services and the movement of goods, people, and ideas through space. In anthropology, the notion of infrastructure also designates an analytic. As such, infrastructure is sensitive to the constant interweaving of technical objects, social organization, knowledge practices, and moral orders. Three key perspectives have been formative for this analytic: historical materialism, the historical and social construction of technology, and the ethnography of infrastructure. The wealth of current infrastructure research revolves around the discussion of four current topics: technopolitics, poetics and promises, paradoxes, and thinking infrastructures. Infrastructure as a theoretical framework holds potential as a new Anthropocene anthropology through minor and terrestrial infrastructuring.


The Internal African Slave Trade as History and Representation  

Marcos Leitão de Almeida

The internal African slave trade is a key topic to understand the political, cultural, and economic history of Africa. As a colonial category, the concept emerged throughout the 19th century as European imperial powers, spearheaded by European antislavery movements, constructed a discourse of abolition associated with the expansion of commerce, Christianity, and civilization. In the process, European imperial agents increasingly challenged the political sovereignty of African states and laid the ground for the discourse of racial inferiority of Africans. At the same time, the term also refers, then as now, to the expansion of the internal slave trade within the continent after 1850. Slavers in different parts of the continent continued to move people across the landscape to provide human labor, this time not for slave ships along the Atlantic coast but for the development of economic undertakings within the continent itself, such as clove plantations on Africa´s east coast, palm oil in West Africa, and the onset of coffee and sugar plantations in Angola. As a colonial and historical category, the internal slave trade is crucial to understanding 19th-century Africa. Moreover, with discoveries in archaeology and historical linguistics, the internal slave trade has been shown to have a much older history, connected with the making of polities in Northeast Africa such as Egypt and Meroë, the trade in slaves and gold in West Africa from the time of the Garamantes to the expansion of Mali, and the settlement of Bantu-speaking villages in Central Africa in the last millennium bce. In this way, the internal African slave trade was not one but many; internal slave trades were, rather, locally generated and emerged in different periods and places in response to distinct contexts and motivations. Therefore, the 19th-century internal African slave trade, with its spin-off stereotyped representation of a continent without history, needs to be supplemented by an understanding of the multiple slave trades in Africa’s early past, as evidenced by historical linguistics and archaeology.