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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.


Plant Use  

Anna Maria Mercuri

Plant use is a familiar word pair that emphasizes how the great wealth of properties and characters of different botanical species has allowed humans to develop different aspects of their culture. On one hand, plants communicate chemically with each other; on the other hand, their wealth of chemical communication tools has attracted humans, who are interested in colors and smells, taste and food, fuel, wellness, and health. The traces of plants buried in archeological sites—the subject of archeobotany—allow us to reconstruct the steps of the relationship between humans and plants. Surprisingly, the study of botanical remains from the past shows complex uses since the very early stages of human cultures, dating back even before the beginning of the Holocene. The relationship with the environment was structured in forms of increased control, at least from the invention of agriculture (as something that had never existed before) onward, undertaking complex forms of exploitation in accordance with the different cultures in the different regions of the world. In more recent times, people and plants have also progressively developed a history of greater management and interdependence, including the development of agricultural landscapes, selection of domesticated species, and creation of gardens. The relationship with plants changes as society changes, leading to the loss of much knowledge in present times because of less connection and contact with nature. Knowledge and conservation of traditions dealing with plants are studied with ethnobotany, which explores plant use in the present day. Ecology for ecosystem services is the newest perspective on plant use, where perhaps trees return to play a key role in human existence without being cut down, and the green color of chlorophyll returns as a reassuring signal to the human species.


Leadership and Organizational Development  

Derek Newberry and Eric Gruebel

Since at least the 1930s, anthropologists have been conducting research on the dynamics and features of leadership and organizational development. After a period of dormancy lasting from the middle of the century to the end of the 1970s, work in the field has taken off. Drawing on two of anthropology’s defining features—the ethnographic method and the culture concept—scholars working within the field have provided an alternative and productive approach to a subject studied across a range of disciplines. As is the case throughout anthropology, no one definition of culture serves as the universal touchstone for the anthropological study of organizations. Still, anthropologists working within the field commonly reject any notion of culture as static, uniform, or fully bounded within an organization. Unlike in the traditional management scholarship, there are few explanatory frameworks on effective leadership or organizational functioning in the anthropological literature. This different emphasis is a byproduct of the larger trend toward reflexivity over the last two decades, in which anthropologists have increasingly challenged both the concept of “culture” itself and attempts to develop broad theoretical frameworks. For anthropologists of organizations, this shift has created a division between more academically oriented scholars who produce small-scale ethnographies that resist generalization and applied anthropologists who have created more practical, method-focused guides to the field. At the same time, academics and practitioners in fields like design-thinking and industrial-organizational psychology have developed their own, anthropologically informed approaches and theories for understanding leadership and cultural change in organizations. Entering the third decade of the 20th century, it remains to be seen whether the field will continue down this divided path or instead reconnect with its roots in broad cultural theory, leading to greater efforts to synthesize practical, academic, and interdisciplinary approaches to develop new theoretical frameworks.


A Reappraisal of the Chalcolithic of Central and Deccan India  

Shweta Sinha Deshpande and Esha Prasad

The Chalcolithic Period of India, first identified at the site of Jorwe in the 1950s, is an important cultural period in the history of India’s civilizational development, especially for the Central, Deccan, Southern, and Eastern regions of the subcontinent. The period ranges from the 3rd millennium bce to the mid-1st millennium bce and covers the origin, development, and decline phases of the Chalcolithic cultures in these regions. While traditionally referred to as two distinct groups, the “Central” Indian and “Deccan” Chalcolithic cultures represent a cultural continuum across the regions of southeast Rajasthan or Mewar, Central India or Malwa, and the Deccan. The archaeological sites are found along the river valleys, and some of the typological sites include Ahar, Balathal, and Gilund in Mewar; Kayatha, Eran, Navdatoli in Malwa; and Savalda, Inamgaon, and Daimabad in the Deccan region. The Central Indian and Deccan Chalcolithic cultures form a cultural community defined by the Black-on-Red Ware (B-on-RW) and the Black-and-Red Ware (B&RW) ceramic types, along with their associated pottery types that have helped frame the chronology and cultural sequence of origin, development, and decline. Also referred to as the early farming communities, they are defined by a sedentary lifestyle with permanent and semi-permanent structures, an agropastoral economy with the production of goods for exchange and commerce, along with variations in religious practices that include fire worship, bull worship, and distinctive burial customs, among others as identified by the excavators. Based on stratigraphic sequence, stylistic similarities, and material culture, five distinct cultural phases have been identified in Central India and the Deccan—namely, the Ahar, Kayatha, and Savalda followed by the Malwa and Jorwe. The origin of these cultures, while not distinctively clear, has been attributed to various native and foreign elements including the Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures of the region, contemporary Pre-Early-Mature-and-Late Harappan cultures, and West Asian influence, among others. The Chalcolithic period in the history of the Indian subcontinent provides a bridge between Prehistory and Early History while raising several relevant questions with regard to its identity in terms of origin and influence, and its placement within the general frame of existing archaeological chronology between the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Iron Age. Interaction and exchange networks within cultures such as the Southern Neolithic and Harappans—including Early, Mature, and Late periods of Haryana, Gujarat, and north Rajasthan, which contribute to the Chalcolithic period’s rich material assemblage—need to be seen from a fresh perspective. In addition, it is important to reexamine the excavated material from these sites, and possibly undertake fresh excavations in light of new information from sites in southeast Rajasthan, to establish the cultural continuum that these Chalcolithic cultures represent within the chronology of cultural development of the subcontinent.


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. .