Volume 66, Number 2, Abstracts

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Evolution of the Brain and the Determinants of Food Choice
George J. Armelagos

Implications of Human Behavioral Ecology for Understanding Complex Human Behavior Resource Monopolization, Package Size, and Turquoise
John Kantner

Within Projectile Range: Some Thoughts on the Appearance of the Aurignacian in Europe
Nicolas Teyssandier, François Bon and Jean-Guillaume Bordes

On Intimate Grammars with Examples from Navajo English, Navlish, and Navajo
Anthony K. Webster

Book Reviews

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Evolution of the Brain and the Determinants of Food Choice

George J. Armelagos
Goodrich C. White Professor of Anthropology
Emory University

KEY WORDS: Evolution of the brain, Food choice, Industrial food system, Paleolithic diet

ABSTRACT: More than 72 million Americans, over a third of the population, are obese. In the past three decades, the rates of obesity in adults have doubled, and rates in children have tripled. Obesity rates have markedly increased among all segments of society, including those defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, and geographic region. Michael Pollan (2006) argues that the obesity crisis is due to the abundance of foods now available to satisfy the omnivore’s dilemma, the desire for dietary variety required to meet energy requirements paired with the often fearful and perilous search for new foods. The abundance of food is an important factor in the obesity problem, but the solution to this perplexing riddle is more complex and is buried in our evolutionary history. A biocultural perspective, which highlights coevolutionary processes, is most useful for understanding humans’ dietary and nutritional adaptation to changing social and physical environments. In our early evolution, the evolving body—with an expanding brain, lengthening small intestine, and shrinking large intestine— required nutritionally dense foods. Our current pattern of eating reflects the way in which Homo sapiens evolved and resolved the omnivore’s dilemma. The resolution of the omnivore’s dilemma lies in the development of cuisine to mediate this biological conflict. Cuisine defines which items found in nature are edible, how these substances are processed into food, how the foods are flavored, how and with whom we eat, and the rules of eating—the code of etiquette.

With the transition to primary food production during the Neolithic, the variety of foods dramatically decreased. The need for variety was met by creatively experimenting with food preparation, despite the availability of limited ingredients. The shift toward large-scale agriculture in the past century led to an overall decline in human nutrition by reducing dietary breadth. More recently, industrialization of the food system has made an overwhelming abundance of inexpensive, high-density foods (sugar and fats) available to populations in some areas of the world. The disjunction between the small amount of physical energy they expend to obtain significant numbers of calories has created the modern obesity epidemic.

Implications of Human Behavioral Ecology for Understanding Complex Human Behavior Resource Monopolization, Package Size, and Turquoise

John Kantner
School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM

KEY WORDS: Chaco Canyon, Decision theory, Human behavioral ecology, Prestige goods, Turquoise, U.S. Southwest

ABSTRACT: Human behavioral ecology recognizes that individual behavior is an important part of human adaptability. Shaped by evolution by natural selection, humans possess cognitive mechanisms that influence learning and decision making and that generally guide our behavior toward adaptive solutions. Behavioral ecologists most often develop models to explain the ways in which humans achieve reproductive success, but the capacity for goal-oriented, rational behavior can also play an important role in the development of complex social and political relationships, many of which do not so obviously enhance fitness. In this article, concepts of behavioral ecology are employed to derive a model of how, in certain contexts, individual decision making promotes the importance of “prestige goods” that characterize the emergence of sociopolitical differentiation in many societies. In particular, concepts of tolerated theft, package size, and resource monopolization are employed to demonstrate under what conditions prestige goods would be expected to become important. This is illustrated through an examination of turquoise artifacts and their role in the sociopolitical elaboration of Chaco-era Puebloan people of the American Southwest.

Within Projectile Range: Some Thoughts on the Appearance of the Aurignacian in Europe

Nicolas Teyssandier
University Toulouse, France, and and University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

François Bon
University Toulouse, France

Jean-Guillaume Bordes
University of Bordeaux, France

KEY WORDS: Art, Cultural modernity, Early Aurignacian, Emergence of modern humans, Lithic technology, Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, Protoaurignacian, Symbolism

ABSTRACT: The Aurignacian has long been interpreted as the culture that corresponded to the arrival of modern humans in Europe and, along with them, all the constituent elements of the Upper Paleolithic. In addition to noting the profound technological changes, we emphasize in particular the systematization and diversification of personal ornaments and the emergence of graphic arts. While not denying the impact of such transformations, and not questioning their close association with the Aurignacian, our objective here is to place them in their archaeological context in order to show that their development was not sudden but in fact more gradual than is usually considered. With respect to the internal chronology of the Aurignacian, we thus depict a more complex image of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, attenuating the impression of an abrupt and radical break that generally surrounds its interpretation.


On Intimate Grammars with Examples from Navajo English, Navlish, and Navajo

Anthony K. Webster
Department of Anthropology
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

KEY WORDS: Aesthetics, Iconicity, Intimate grammars, Navajo, Navlish, Navajo English, Poetry

ABSTRACT: This article investigates the ways that individuals engage with languages. Building on the work of Elizabeth Povinelli (2006) and Michael Herzfeld (1997), this article argues for the importance of understanding intimate grammars. Intimate grammars are an emotionally saturated use of language that runs the risk of negative evaluation by outsiders (or non-outsiders) but are deeply and expressively feelingful for individuals. Intimate grammars are investigated by way of probing the ways Navajo poets actively engage with Navajo, Navlish, and Navajo English. It is argued that intimate grammars evoke by way of iconicity. In the conclusion, it is argued that intimate grammars allow us to rethink questions of resistance, indexicality, and language shift by focusing on the felt attachment that speakers have with languages.

Book Reviews

Nina G. Jablonski: Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters, Evelyn Nakano Glenn, ed.

Robert Brightman: The Western Illusion of Human Nature, by Marshall Sahlins

Marcia Mikulak: Anthropology and Child Development: A Cross-Cultural Reader, Robert A. LeVine and Rebecca S. New, eds.

Matt Bridges and John Bock: The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings, by David F. Lancy

Sareeta B. Amrute: Houses in Motion: The Experience of Place and the Problem of Belief in Urban Malaysia, by Richard Baxtrom

Kerrie Ann Shannon: Bear Country: Predation, Politics, and the Changing Face of Pyrenean Pastoralism, by Bryan D. Cummins

Annapurna Devi Pandey: Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class and Success in Silicon Valley, by Shalini Shankar

Daniel C. Swan: Comanche Ethnography: Field Notes of E. Adamson Hoebel, Waldo R. Wedel, Gustav G. Carlson, and Robert H. Lowie, Thomas W. Kavanagh, ed.

Thomas B. Stevenson: The Quality of Home Runs: The Passion, Politics, and Language of Cuban Baseball, by Thomas F. Carter

Frances F. Berdan: Sweeping the Way: Divine Transformation in the Aztec Festival of Ochpaniztli, by Catherine DiCesare

Jean E. Jackson: Indigenous Peoples, Civil Society, and the Neo-liberal State in Latin America, Edward F. Fischer, ed.

Hildi Hendrickson: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing through World History, by Jill Condra

Lawrence G. Straus: Le Massif de Fontainebleau au Paléolithique Supérieur: Les Grands Sites d’Habitat Préhistorique, Evolution des Cultures et des Paysages, by Béatrice Schmider and Annie Roblin-Jouve

Lawrence G. Straus: La Ocupación Prehistórica de la Campiña Litoral y Banda Atlántica de Cádiz. Aproximación al Estudio de las Sociedades Cazadoras- Recolectoras, Tribales-Comunitarias y Clasistas Iniciales, Jose Ramos Muñoz, ed.

April Nowell: Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief, David S. Whitley

William A. Longacre: Social Change and the Evolution of Ceramic Production and Distribution in a Maya Community, by Dean E. Arnold

Andrea Stone: To Be Like Gods: Dance in Ancient Maya Civilization,by Matthew G. Looper

George L. Cowgill: Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in the Northwestern Valley of Mexico: The Zumpango Region, by Jeffrey R. Parsons

William F. Keegan: The Archaeology of the Caribbean, by Samuel M. Wilson

Richard T. Callahan: Myths and Realities of Caribbean History, by Basil A. Reid

Felipe Castro: Underwater and Maritime Archaeology in Latin America and the Caribbean, Margaret Leshikar-Denton and Pilar Luna Erreguerena, eds.

David Browman: The Ancient Andean Village: Marcaya in Prehispanic Nasca, by Kevin J. Vaughn

Jennifer E. Perry: A Canyon through Time: Archaeology, History, and Ecology of the Tecolote Canyon Area, Santa Barbara County, California, by Jon M. Erlandson, Torben C. Rick, and René L. Vellanoweth

Thomas C. Windes: Chaco and after in the Northern San Juan: Excavations at the Bluff Great House, by Catherine M. Cameron

Patrick D. Lyons: Symbols in Clay: Seeking Artists’ Identities in Hopi Yellow Ware Bowls, by Steven A. LeBlanc and Lucia R. Henderson

Suzanne L. Eckert: The Social Construction of Communities: Agency, Structure and Identity in the Prehispanic Southwest, Mark D. Varien and James M. Potter, eds.

Mark P. Muñiz: Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains, Laura L. Scheiber and Bonnie J. Clark, eds.

Ken Feder: Archaeology Matters: Action Archaeology in the Modern World, by Jeremy A. Sabloff

Katina T. Lillios: Body and Image: Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology 2, by Christopher Tilley

Karen Holmberg: Archaeologies of Placemaking: Monuments, Memories, and Engagement in Native North America, Patricia E. Rubertone, ed.

Eric Alden Smith: Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution, Stephen Shennan, ed. .

Craig T. Palmer: Sexual Coercion in Primates and Humans: An Evolutionary Perspective on Male Aggression against Females, Martin N. Muller and Richard W. Wrangham, eds.

Allan Ashworth: Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions, Susan A. Crate and Mark Nuttall, eds.


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