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American Anthropologist

Jeffrey Fleisher, Paul Lane, Adria LaViolette, Mark Horton, Edward Pollard, Eréndira Quintana Morales, Thomas Vernet, Annalisa Christie, Stephanie Wynne-Jones
: In this article, we examine an assumption about the historic Swahili of the eastern African coast: that they were a maritime society from their beginnings in the first millennium C.E. Based on historical and archaeological data, we suggest that, despite their proximity to and use of the sea, the level of maritimity of Swahili society increased greatly over time and was only fully realized in the early second millennium C.E. Drawing on recent theorizing from other areas of the world about maritimity as well as research on the Swahili, we discuss three arenas that distinguish first- and second-millennium coastal society in terms of their maritime orientation...
March 2015: American Anthropologist
Hillary N Fouts, Barry S Hewlett, Michael E Lamb
Anthropologists have long recognized that breastfeeding involves much more than feeding; it entails intimate social interactions between infants or children and their mothers. However, breastfeeding has predominantly been studied with respect to structural features (frequency, timing) as well as nutritional and health aspects of infant feeding. Thus, in this study we complement previous anthropological studies by examining social interactions that occur during breastfeeding among the Aka and Bofi foragers and Ngandu and Bofi farmers at various ages (three to four months, nine to ten months, toddlers)...
2012: American Anthropologist
Claire L Wendland
At an understaffed and underresourced urban African training hospital, Malawian medical students learn to be doctors while foreign medical students, visiting Malawi as clinical tourists on short-term electives, learn about “global health.” Scientific ideas circulate fast there; clinical tourists circulate readily from outside to Malawi but not the reverse; medical technologies circulate slowly, erratically, and sometimes not at all. Medicine's uneven globalization is on full display. I extend scholarship on moral imaginations and medical imaginaries to propose that students map these wards variously as places in which—or from which—they seek a better medicine...
2012: American Anthropologist
Nell Gabiam
In recent years, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has attempted to go beyond its role as a provider of relief and basic services in Palestinian refugee camps and emphasize its role as a development agency. In this article, I focus on the Neirab Rehabilitation Project, an UNRWA-sponsored development project taking place in the Palestinian refugee camps of Ein el Tal and Neirab in northern Syria. I argue that UNRWA's role as a relief-centered humanitarian organization highlights the everyday suffering of Palestinian refugees, suffering that has become embedded in refugees’ political claims...
2012: American Anthropologist
Erica Weiss
The Israeli military's Conscience Committee evaluates and exempts pacifists from obligatory military service, based explicitly on concern for liberal tolerance. However, I found that liberal pacifist applicants’ principled objections to violence challenged the state, and as such, applicants who articulated their refusal in such terms are rejected by the military review board. By contrast, pacifist conscientious objection based in embodied visceral revulsion to violence did not challenge the state and moral order, and such cases were granted exemption...
2012: American Anthropologist
Eleanor Harrison-Buck
In this study, I develop a theory of landscape archaeology that incorporates the concept of “animism” as a cognitive approach. Current trends in anthropology are placing greater emphasis on indigenous perspectives, and in recent decades animism has seen a resurgence in anthropological theory. As a means of relating in (not to) one's world, animism is a mode of thought that has direct bearing on landscape archaeology. Yet, Americanist archaeologists have been slow to incorporate this concept as a component of landscape theory...
2012: American Anthropologist
Joy McCorriston, Michael Harrower, Louise Martin, Eric Oches
At the cusp of food production, Near Eastern societies adopted new territorial practices, including archaeologically visible sedentism and nonsedentary social defenses more challenging to identify archaeologically. New archaeological and paleoenvironmental evidence for Arabia's earliest-known sacrifices points to territorial maintenance in arid highland southern Yemen. Here sedentism was not an option prior to agriculture. Seasonally mobile pastoralists developed alternate practices to reify cohesive identities, maintain alliances, and defend territories...
2012: American Anthropologist
Eitan Wilf
In this article, I seek to complicate the distinction between imitation and creativity, which has played a dominant role in the modern imaginary and anthropological theory. I focus on a U.S. collegiate jazz music program, in which jazz educators use advanced sound technologies to reestablish immersive interaction with the sounds of past jazz masters against the backdrop of the disappearance of performance venues for jazz. I analyze a key pedagogical practice in the course of which students produce precise replications of the recorded improvisations of past jazz masters and then play them in synchrony with the recordings...
2012: American Anthropologist
Frederick Errington, Tatsuro Fujikura, Deborah Gewertz
Focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on urban and periurban Papua New Guinea (PNG), we discuss the significance of instant ramen noodles to those now known as the “bottom of the pyramid” (BOP). Although instant noodles are remarkable in that they are eaten by virtually everyone in the world, albeit in different amounts and for different reasons, they are marketed in PNG specifically as a “popularly positioned product” (PPP) for the BOP. Cheap, convenient, tasty, filling, and shelf stable, they are a modern addition to Sidney Mintz's classic “proletarian hunger killers” of sugar, tea, and coffee...
2012: American Anthropologist
Caroline S Archambault
Esther is one of many young Maasai girls in Kenya "rescued" from early marriage. Her story is conventionally portrayed (trans)nationally and locally as a struggle between conservative pastoral patriarchs and the individual right of young girls to an education. I offer an ethnographic contextualization of the underlying factors giving rise to practices of early marriage, among the Maasai in Enkop, highlighting the contemporary predicaments of pastoralism in the face of population growth, climactic instability, and land-tenure reform and the insecurities and challenges around formal education...
2011: American Anthropologist
Deborah Davis Jackson
Here I explore how the experience of place at a First Nations reserve in Ontario, located in the middle of Canada's "Chemical Valley," is disrupted by the extraordinary levels of pollution found there. In so doing, I give special attention to air pollution and residents' responses to associated odors - that is, to the sense of smell. Focusing on a unique feature of smell - that it operates primarily through indexicality - I draw on C. S. Peirce's semiotic framework to highlight ways in which perception of odors entails embodiment of the perceived substance, thus connecting self and surroundings in profound and transformative ways...
2011: American Anthropologist
Ralph Rozema
In this article, I argue that the practice of forced disappearance of persons on the part of paramilitary groups has become linked to specific processes of globalization. Global flows related to biopolitics, global crime networks, and dehumanizing imaginations reproduced by mass media together constitute a driving force behind forced disappearances. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the Colombian city of Medellín, I analyze how these global flows interact with local armed actors, helping create a climate conducive to forced disappearance...
2011: American Anthropologist
Jan de Ruiter, Gavin Weston, Stephen M Lyon
Popular academic ideas linking physiological adaptations to social behaviors are spreading disconcertingly into wider societal contexts. In this article, we note our skepticism with one particularly popular—in our view, problematic—supposed causal correlation between neocortex size and social group size. The resulting Dunbar's Number, as it has come to be called, has been statistically tested against observed group size in different primate species. Although there may be reason to doubt the Dunbar's Number hypothesis among nonhuman primate species, we restrict ourselves here to the application of such an explanatory hypothesis to human, culture-manipulating populations...
2011: American Anthropologist
Ana Croegaert
The official end to communism in Eastern Europe marked the onset of major migratory movements. Perhaps the most abrupt of these population shifts was the displacement of more than two million people in Yugoslavia's violent dissolution. Much of the existing literature on refugee migration has focused on victimization and citizenship claims. Alternatively, I draw on ethnographic research among Bosnian refugee-immigrants in Chicago to examine how a group of adult women migrants used one commodity - coffee - to manage and evaluate their displacements...
2011: American Anthropologist
Setha M Low
I use the concept of “engaged anthropology” to frame a discussion of how “spatializing culture” uncovers systems of exclusion that are hidden or naturalized and thus rendered invisible to other methodological approaches. “Claiming Space for an Engaged Anthropology” is doubly meant: to claim more intellectual and professional space for engagement and to propose that anthropology include the dimension of space as a theoretical construct. I draw on three fieldwork examples to illustrate the value of the approach: (1) a Spanish American plaza, reclaimed from a Eurocentric past, for indigenous groups and contemporary cultural interpretation; (2) Moore Street Market, an enclosed Latino food market in Brooklyn, New York, reclaimed for a translocal set of social relations rather than a gentrified redevelopment project; (3) gated communities in Texas and New York and cooperatives in New York, reclaiming public space and confronting race and class segregation created by neoliberal enclosure and securitization...
2011: American Anthropologist
Elizabeth T Abrams, Julienne N Rutherford
Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide, is responsible for 35 percent of maternal deaths. Proximately, PPH results from the failure of the placenta to separate from the uterine wall properly, most often because of impairment of uterine muscle contraction. Despite its prevalence and its well-described clinical manifestations, the ultimate causes of PPH are not known and have not been investigated through an evolutionary lens. We argue that vulnerability to PPH stems from the intensely invasive nature of human placentation...
2011: American Anthropologist
Stefan Helmreich
Seawater has occupied an ambiguous place in anthropological categories of "nature" and "culture." Seawater as nature appears as potentiality of form and uncontainable flux; it moves faster than culture - with culture frequently figured through land-based metaphors - even as culture seeks to channel water's (nature's) flow. Seawater as culture manifests as a medium of pleasure, sustenance, travel, disaster. I argue that, although seawater's qualities in early anthropology were portrayed impressionistically, today technical, scientific descriptions of water's form prevail...
2011: American Anthropologist
Ömer Gokcumen, Timur Gultekin, Yesim Dogan Alakoc, Aysim Tug, Erksin Gulec, Theodore G Schurr
Previous population genetics studies in Turkey failed to delineate recent historical and social factors that shaped Anatolian cultural and genetic diversity at the local level. To address this shortcoming, we conducted focused ethnohistorical fieldwork and screened biological samples collected from the Yuksekyer region for mitochondrial, Y chromosome, and autosomal markers and then analyzed the data within an ethnohistorical context. Our results revealed that, at the village level, paternal genetic diversity is structured among settlements, whereas maternal genetic diversity is distributed more homogenously, reflecting the strong patrilineal cultural traditions that transcend larger ethnic and religious structures...
2011: American Anthropologist
Peggy F Barlett
Campus sustainable food projects recently have expanded rapidly. A review of four components - purchasing goals, academic programs, direct marketing, and experiential learning - shows both intent and capacity to contribute to transformational change toward an alternative food system. The published rationales for campus projects and specific purchasing guidelines join curricular and cocurricular activities to evaluate, disseminate, and legitimize environmental, economic, social justice, and health concerns about conventional food...
2011: American Anthropologist
Luke J Matthews, Annika Paukner, Stephen J Suomi
The study of social learning in captivity and behavioral traditions in the wild are two burgeoning areas of research, but few empirical studies have tested how learning mechanisms produce emergent patterns of tradition. Studies have examined how social learning mechanisms that are cognitively complex and possessed by few species, such as imitation, result in traditional patterns, yet traditional patterns are also exhibited by species that may not possess such mechanisms. We propose an explicit model of how stimulus enhancement and reinforcement learning could interact to produce traditions...
June 1, 2010: American Anthropologist
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