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Other titles in the Taking Sides: Anthropology series:
Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Anthropology (Taking Sides: Anthropology)
Synopses & Reviews
This Fourth Edition of TAKING SIDES: ANTHROPOLOGY presents current controversial issues in a debate-style format designed to stimulate student interest and develop critical thinking skills. Each issue is thoughtfully framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. An instructors manual with testing material is available for each volume. USING TAKING SIDES IN THE CLASSROOM, ISBN 0073343900, is also an excellent instructor resource with practical suggestions on incorporating this effective approach in the classroom. Each TAKING SIDES reader features an annotated listing of selected World Wide Web sites and is supported by our student website, www.mhcls.com/online.
Table of Contents
Issue 1 Is Race a Useful Concept for Anthropologists?
YES: George W. Gill, from “Does Race Exist? A Proponents Perspective,” Nova Online (October 12, 2000)
NO: C. Loring Brace, from “Does Race Exist? An Antagonists Perspective,” NOVA Online (October 12, 2000)
Biological and forensic anthropologist George W. Gill contends that the concept of race remains a useful one. For him, races are conceived as populations originating in particular regions. He contends that because races can be distinguished both by external and skeletal features, the concept is an especially useful tool for the forensic task of identifying human skeletons. Furthermore, the notion of race provides a vocabulary for discussing human biological variation and racism. Biological anthropologist C. Loring Brace argues that distinct races cannot be defined because human physical features vary gradually and independently from region to region, without sharp discontinuities between physical types. He says races exist in peoples perceptions, but not in biological reality. Issue 2 Are Humans Inherently Violent?
YES: Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, from Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996)
NO: Robert W. Sussman, from “Exploring Our Basic Human Nature: Are Humans Inherently Violent?,” Anthro Notes (Fall 1997)
Biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham and science writer Dale Peterson maintain that sexual selection, a type of natural selection, has fostered an instinct for male aggression because males who are good fighters mate more frequently and sire more offspring than weaker and less aggressive ones. Biological anthropologist Robert W. Sussman regards the notion that human males are inherently violent as a Western cultural tradition, not a scientifically demonstrated fact. UNIT 2
Issue 3 Was There a Pre-Clovis Migration to the New World from Europe?
YES: Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford, from “The North Atlantic Ice-Edge Corridor: A Possible Palaeolithic Route to the New World,” World Archaeology (December 2004)
NO: Lawrence Guy Straus, from “Solutrean Settlement of North America? A Review of Reality,” American Antiquity (April 2000)
Archaeologists Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford maintain that there is no evidence that the ancestors of the Clovis big-game hunting people of North America originated in Siberia and migrated down an ice-free corridor from Alaska. They argue that Clovis stone tool technology probably developed among the Solutreans of Europe, and that Solutrean hunters traveled across the north Atlantic ice sheet to North America, where they became the ancestors of the Clovis people. Anthropologist Lawrence Guy Straus counters that the Solutrean culture ended at least 5,000 years before the Clovis culture appeared, and that the North Atlantic Ocean would have been an insurmountable barrier to human travel during the last glacial maximum. He argues that the similarities between the Clovis and Solutrean tool technologies are limited and coincidental. Issue 4 Was the Extinction of Pleistocene Megafauna in North America Caused by Climate Change Rather than Over-Hunting?
YES: Donald K. Grayson and David J. Meltzer, from “A Requiem for North American Overkill,” Journal of Archaeological Science (May 2003)
NO: Stuart Fiedel and Gary Haynes, from “A Premature Burial: Comments on Grayson and Meltzers ‘Requiem for Overkill,” Journal of Archaeological Science (January 2004)
Archaeologists Donald Grayson and David Meltzer argue that the evidence that human predation caused the Pleistocene Megafaunas extinction is circumstantial. They contend that there is little archaeological evidence to support that hypothesis, and they suggest that climate change is a more likely explanation for these extinctions in North America as it seems to be for those in Europe. Archaeologists Stuart Fiedel and Gary Haynes are strong supporters of the overkill hypothesis, which argues that humans overhunted large mammals to extinction in North America. They contend that Grayson and Meltzer have misinterpreted older archaeological evidence and largely ignore more recent data. They maintain that the extinctions took place too fast to have been caused by climate change. Issue 5 Did Prehistoric Native Americans Practice Cannibalism in the American Southwest?
YES: Brian R. Billman, Patricia M. Lambert, and Banks L. Leonard, from “Cannibalism, Warfare, and Drought in the Mesa Verde Region During the Twelfth Century A.D.,” American Antiquity (January 2000)
NO: Kurt E. Dongoske, Debra L. Martin, and T. J. Ferguson, from “Critique of the Claim of Cannibalism at Cowboy Wash,” American Antiquity (January 2000)
Archaeologists Brian Billman and Banks L. Leonard and bioarchaeologist Patricia Lambert argue that there is evidence of prehistoric cannibalism in the Mesa Verde region of southwestern Colorado. They conclude that the bodies of seven individuals were processed in ways that suggest that they were eaten by other humans. Archaeologists Kurt E. Dongoske and T.J. Ferguson and bioarchaeologist Debra L. Martin object that the analytical framework Billman et al. use assumes that cannibalism took place and does not adequately consider alternative hypotheses. UNIT 3
Issue 6 Can Apes Learn Language?
YES: E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh, from “Language Training of Apes,” in Steve Jones, Robert Martin, and David Pilbeam, eds., The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution (Cambridge University Press, 1999)
NO: Joel Wallman, from Aping Language (Cambridge University Press, 1992)
Psychologist and primate specialist E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh argues that, since the 1960s, attempts to teach chimpanzees and other apes symbol systems similar to human language have resulted in the demonstration of a genuine ability to create new symbolic patterns. Linguist Joel Wallman counters that attempts to teach chimps and other apes sign language or other symbolic systems have demonstrated that apes are very intelligent animals, but up to now these attempts have not shown that apes have any innate capacity for language. Issue 7 Should Anthropologists and Linguists Be Concerned About Losing Endangered Languages?
YES: Ken Hale, from “Endangered Languages,” Language (March 1992)
NO: Peter Ladefoged, from “Another View of Endangered Languages,” Language (December 1992)
Linguist Ken Hale contends that the loss of endangered languages represents a major tragedy for humanity, because each language that goes extinct reduces the worlds linguistic diversity. The pace of extinctions has increased over the past century, mostly because government policies routinely encourage language loss. While linguists have a responsibility for recording and documenting endangered languages, they also have a role to play in influencing government policies that can encourage retention of these minority languages. Linguist Peter Ladefoged accepts the fact that endangered languages are disappearing, but feels that the position taken by Ken Hale and his colleagues is unacceptably paternalistic. He contends that while it is a good thing to study linguistic diversity, the people who speak endangered languages have just as much right to participate in their nations affairs as anyone else, even if it means their children will learn the metropolitan language, not the endangered language. UNIT 4
Issue 8 Should Cultural Anthropology Stop Trying to Model Itself on Sciences?
YES: Clifford Geertz, from The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (Basic Books, 1973)
NO: Robert L. Carneiro, from “Godzilla Meets New Age Anthropology: Facing the Postmodernist Challenge to a Science of Culture,” EUROPÉA (1995)
Cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz views anthropology as a science of interpretation, and as such he argues that anthropology should never model itself on the natural sciences. He believes that anthropologys goal should be to generate deeper interpretations of diverse cultural phenomena, using what he calls “thick description,” rather than attempting to prove or disprove scientific laws. Cultural anthropologist Robert Carneiro argues that anthropology has always been and should continue to be a science that attempts to explain sociocultural phenomena in terms of causes and effects rather than merely interpret them. Issue 9 Was Margaret Meads Fieldwork on Samoan Adolescents Fundamentally Flawed?
YES: Derek Freeman, from Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth (Harvard University Press, 1983)
NO: Lowell D. Holmes and Ellen Rhoads Holmes, from Samoan Village: Then and Now, 2nd ed. (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1992)
Social anthropologist Derek Freeman contends that Margaret Mead went to Samoa determined to prove anthropologist Franz Boass cultural determinist agenda and states that Mead was so eager to believe in Samoan sexual freedom that she was consistently the victim of a hoax perpetrated by Samoan girls and young women who enjoyed tricking her. Cultural anthropologists Lowell D. Holmes and Ellen Rhoads Holmes contend that during a restudy of Meads research, they came to many of the same conclusions that Mead had reached about Samoan sexuality and adolescent experiences. Issue 10 Do Native Peoples Today Invent Their Traditions?
YES: Roger M. Keesing, from “Creating the Past: Custom and Identity in the Contemporary Pacific,” The Contemporary Pacific (Spring/Fall 1989)
NO: Haunani-Kay Trask, from “Natives and Anthropologists: The Colonial Struggle,” The Contemporary Pacific (Spring 1991)
Cultural anthropologist Roger M. Keesing argues that what native peoples in the Pacific now accept as “traditional culture” is largely an invented and idealized vision of their past. He contends that such fictional images emerge because native peoples are largely unfamiliar with what life was really like in pre-Western times and because such imagery distinguishes native communities from dominant Western culture. Hawaiian activist and scholar Haunani-Kay Trask asserts that Keesings critique is fundamentally flawed because he only uses Western documentsand native peoples have oral traditions, genealogies, and other historical sources that are not reflected in Western historical documents. Anthropologists like Keesing, she maintains, are trying to hold on to their privileged position as experts in the face of growing numbers of educated native scholars. Issue 11 Do Men Dominate Women in All Societies?
YES: Steven Goldberg, from “Is Patriarchy Inevitable?” National Review (November 11, 1996)
NO: Kirk M. Endicott and Karen L. Endicott, from The Headman was a Woman: The Gender Egalitarian Batek of Malaysia (Waveland Press, 2008)
Sociologist Steven Goldberg contends that in all societies men occupy most high positions in hierarchical organizations and most high-status roles, and they also tend to dominate women in interpersonal relations. This is because mens hormones cause them to compete more strongly than women for status and dominance. Cultural anthropologists Kirk and Karen Endicott argue that among the Batek people of Malaysia gender roles are not rigidly distinguished. Even the headman of the foraging band in which they lived was a woman. Batek women and men have autonomy and similar access to possessions. They contend that Batek social and cultural treatment of the two sexes is remarkably egalitarian. Issue 12 Is Gay Marriage Natural?
YES: Linda S. Stone, from “Gay Marriage and Anthropology,” Anthropology News (May 2004)
NO: Peter Wood, from “The Marriage Debate Goes Multicultural: Anthropologists Jump InAnd Distort the History of Their Field,” National Review Online (April 26, 2005)
Anthropologist Linda S. Stone argues that anthropologists have traditionally sought to discover and describe the range of variation among the worlds cultures. A definition of marriage that covers this institution in all human societies has been futile. Institutions that resemble marriage in Western countries confer birth rights, sexual access, residence, and other rights, but no set of these rights covers “marriage” in all societies. She views gay marriage in Western Europe, Canada, and Massachusetts as simply another example of the wide variation found in human societies. Anthropologist Peter Wood argues that 150 years of ethnographic studies of kinship have demonstrated that in the vast majority of human societies marriage consists of a union between a man and a woman. Claims by anthropologists that suggest otherwise are misleading by focusing on a handful of exceptional cases in exotic places. Such cases do not demonstrate that gay marriage has ever been an established way of organizing families in non-Western societies. Gay marriage, he argues, is a novel institution, not merely a minor variation among the diverse forms of marriage that have been observed in the ethnographic record. Issue 13 Does the Natural-Supernatural Distinction Exist in All Cultures?
YES: Roger Ivar Lohmann, from “The Supernatural Is Everywhere: Defining Qualities of Religion in Melanesia and Beyond,” Anthropological Forum (November 2003)
NO: Frederick P. Lampe, from “Creating a Second-Storey Woman: Introduced Delineation Between Natural and Supernatural in Melanesia,” Anthropological Forum (November 2003)
Cultural anthropologist Roger Ivar Lohmann argues that a supernaturalistic worldview or cosmology is at the heart of virtually all religions. For him the supernatural is a concept that exists everywhere, although it is expressed differently in each society. For him, supernaturalism attributes volition to things that do not have it. He argues that the supernatural is also a part of Western peoples daily experience in much the same ways that it is the experience of the Papua New Guineans with whom he worked. Lutheran pastor and anthropological researcher Frederick (Fritz) P. Lampe argues that “supernatural” is a problematic and inappropriate term like the term “primitive.” If we accept the term “supernatural,” it is all too easy to become ethnocentric and assume that anything supernatural is unreal, and therefore false. He considers a case at the University of Technology in Papua New Guinea to show how use of the term “supernatural” allows us to miss out on how Papua New Guineans actually understand the world in logical, rational, and naturalistic terms that Westerners would generally see as illogical, irrational, and supernaturalistic. Issue 14 Are San Hunter-Gatherers Basically Pastoralists Who Have Lost Their Herds?
YES: James R. Denbow and Edwin N. Wilmsen, from “Advent and Course of Pastoralism in the Kalahari,” Science (December 19, 1986)
NO: Richard B. Lee, from The Dobe Ju/hoansi, 3rd ed. (Wadsworth Thomson Learning, 2003)
Archaeologists James R. Denbow and Edwin N. Wilmsen argue that the San of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa have been involved in pastoralism, agriculture, and regional trade networks since at least 800 A.D. They imply that the San, who were hunting and gathering in the twentieth century, were descendants of pastoralists who lost their herds due to subjugation by outsiders, drought, and livestock disease. Cultural anthropologist Richard B. Lee counters that evidence from oral history, archaeology, and ethnohistory shows that the Ju/hoansi group of San living in the isolated Nyae Nyae-Dobe area of the Kalahari Desert were autonomous hunter-gatherers until the twentieth century. Although they carried on some trade with outsiders before then, it had minimal impact on their culture. Issue 15 Do Some Illnesses Exist Only Among Members of a Particular Culture?
YES: Sangun Suwanlert, from “Phii Pob: Spirit Possession in Rural Thailand,” in William Lebra, ed., Culture-Bound Syndromes, Ethnopsychiatry, and Alternate Therapies, Vol. 4 of Mental Health Research in Asia and the Pacific (The University of Hawaii Press, 1976)
NO: Robert A. Hahn, from Sickness and Healing: An Anthropological Perspective (Yale University Press, 1995)
Physician Sangun Suwanlert from Thailand asks whether or not one particular illness he observed in northern Thai villages, called phii pob, corresponds to Western diagnostic categories or is restricted to Thailand. He concludes that phii pob is indeed a “culture-bound syndrome” that can only occur among people who share rural Thai cultural values and beliefs. Medical anthropologist Robert A. Hahn counters that the very idea of the so-called culture-bound syndrome is flawed. He contends that culture-bound syndromes are reductionist explanations for certain complex illness conditionsthat is, explanations that reduce complex phenomena to a single variable. Issue 16 Is Ethnic Conflict Inevitable?
YES: Sudhir Kakar, from “Some Unconscious Aspects of Ethnic Violence in India,” in Veena Das, ed., Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots, and Survivors in South Asia (Oxford University Press, 1990)
NO: Anthony Oberschall, from “The Manipulation of Ethnicity: From Ethnic Cooperation to Violence and War in Yugoslavia,” Ethnic and Racial Studies (November 1, 2000)
Indian social researcher Sudhir Kakar analyzes the origins of ethnic conflict from a psychological perspective to argue that ethnic differences are deeply held distinctions that from time to time will inevitably erupt as ethnic conflicts. He maintains that anxiety arises from preconscious fears about cultural differences. In his view, no amount of education or politically correct behavior will eradicate these fears and anxieties about people of differing ethnic backgrounds. American sociologist Anthony Oberschall considers the ethnic conflicts that have recently emerged in Bosnia and contends that primordial ethnic attachments are insufficient to explain the sudden emergence of violence among Bosnian ethnic groups. He adopts a complex explanation for this violence, identifying circumstances in which fears and anxieties were manipulated by politicians for self-serving ends. It was only in the context of these manipulations that ethnic violence could have erupted, concludes Oberschall. UNIT 5
ETHICS IN ANTHROPOLOGY
Issue 17 Should the Remains of Prehistoric Native Americans Be Reburied Rather Than Studied?
YES: James Riding In, from “Repatriation: A Pawnees Perspective,” American Indian Quarterly (Spring 1996)320 NO: Clement W. Meighan, from “Some Scholars Views on Reburial,” American Antiquity (October 1992)
Assistant professor of justice studies and member of the Pawnee tribe James Riding In argues that holding Native American skeletons in museums and other repositories represents a sacrilege against Native American dead and, thus, all Indian remains should be reburied. Professor of anthropology and archaeologist Clement W. Meighan believes that archaeologists have a moral and professional obligation to the archaeological data with which they work. Such data are held in the public good and must be protected from destruction. Issue 18 Did Napoleon Chagnons Research Methods and Publications Harm the Yanomami Indians?
YES: Terence Turner, from The Yanomami and the Ethics of Anthropological Practice (Cornell University Latin American Studies Program, 2001)
NO: Edward H. Hagen, Michael E. Price, and John Tooby, from Preliminary Report Department of Anthropology,
Anthropologist Terence Turner contends that journalist Patrick Tierneys book Darkness in El Dorado accurately depicts how anthropologist Napoleon Chagnons research among the Yanomami Indians caused conflict between groups and how Chagnons portrayal of the Yanomami as extremely violent aided gold miners trying to take over Yanomami land. Anthropologists Edward Hagen, Michael Price, and John Tooby counter that Tierney systematically distorts Chagnons views on Yanomami violence and exaggerates the amount of disruption caused by Chagnons activities compared to those of others such as missionaries and gold miners. Issue 19 Do Museums Misrepresent Ethnic Communities Around the World?
YES: James Clifford, from The Predicament of Culture (Harvard University Press, 1988)
NO: Denis Dutton, from “Mythologies of Tribal Art,” African Arts (Summer 1995)
Postmodernist anthropologist James Clifford argues that the very act of removing objects from their ethnographic contexts distorts the meaning of objects held in museums. Exhibitions misrepresent ethnic communities by omitting important aspects of contemporary life, especially involvement with the colonial or Western world. Anthropologist Denis Dutton asserts that no exhibition can provide a complete context for ethnographic objects, but that does not mean that museum exhibitions are fundamentally flawed.
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