I haven't seen a lot of reaction so far. There is a post on this on Dienekes' Blog, complete with the kind of superficial, ill-thought-out criticism that can only be found in blog comment threads.
In praise of reductionism
2 weeks ago
Archaeology and prehistory.
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Colgate University invites applications for a tenure-stream position in Anthropology at the level of Assistant Professor (Ph.D. expected by time of appointment) to commence in the 2011-2012 academic year. The Department invites applications from candidates committed to interdisciplinarity, ethnographic fieldwork, and social theory. [...]. Teaching interests in one or more of the following are desirable: transnationalism or migration; social movements; collaborative or indigenous archaeology; race and postcolonial theory; urban ethnography; medicine and the body. Geographic area of expertise is open, but the department especially encourages applications from candidates who work in Latin America, South or Southeast Asia. Teaching duties will include Introduction to Cultural Anthropology or Research Methods, and a Senior Research Seminar, and will include participation in the University’s Liberal Arts Core Curriculum (teaching an interdisciplinary course in the candidate’s areas of specialization). [...]Of course, I have no idea what the context of this advertisement might be, but the fact that it was listed on the SAA website suggests that there is some intent to hire an archaeologist. However, a quick read of the text shows that they really want a cultural anthropologist, since their areas of interest and teaching duties have very little to do with anything that archaeology, as a discipline, might find interesting or substantive.
[...] the field of archaeology must secure a separate and distinct institutional identity within the academy. What this means in different institutional contexts will vary, but archaeology requires an identity that segregates it from its most fractious and fragmented social science and humanistic kin on the one hand and places it outside of departments of anthropology on the other.I agree completely.
Becoming Villagers: Comparing Early Village SocietiesTheodore de Bry depicting a New England village scene. De Bry engravings are a very popular source of imagery for archaeological texts. I had originally proposed an engraving from a 1707 edition of Hans Staden's description of his captivity among the Tupinambá of Brazil. (second image). I thought this was great and different until the editor pointed out that it depicted an execution scene in the plaza of a village, and that the palisade was surmounted by severed heads. We all decided that the de Bry image was probably a better choice after all.
Edited by Matthew S. Bandy and Jake R. Fox
The shift from mobile hunting and gathering to more sedentary, usually agricultural, lifeways was one of the most significant milestones in the prehistory of humanity. This transformation was spurred by an alignment of social and ecological forces, pressures, and adaptations, and it took place in broadly comparable ways in many prehistoric settings.
Based on a Society for American Archaeology symposium and subsequent Amerind Advanced Seminar in 2006, Becoming Villagers examines this transformation at various places and times across the globe by focusing not on the origins of agriculture and village life but rather on their consequences. The goal of the volume is to identify regularities in the ways that societies developed in the centuries and millennia following a transition to village life. Using cases that range from China to Bolivia and from the Near East to the American Southwest, leading archaeologists situate their specific areas of specialization in a broad comparative context.
They consider the forces acting to divide and fragment early villages and the social technologies and practices by which those obstacles were, in some cases, overcome. Finally, the volume examines the long-term historical trajectories of these early village societies.
This transformative collection makes a powerful case for a renewed and invigorated archaeological focus on large-scale comparative studies. It will be an essential read for anyone interested not only in early village societies but also in the ways in which archaeology relates to anthropology, other social sciences, and history.
|Stone Circles||Ceramics||Ground Stone||FCR Thermal||Cairns Alignments||Rock Art||Housepits||Steatite||Totals|
Table 1: Selected feature and artifact type counts organized by east/west. East/West line placed between Ranges 84W and 85W
Further information can be gleaned from an inspection of the adjusted chi-squared residuals (Figure 1). These residuals provide a measure of the importance of specific variables in distinguishing between the two groups. Values above +2 and below -2 indicate significant deviations from expected values in the contingency table, providing a convenient threshold of statistical significance. When plotted, the residuals clearly show that only five of the eight variables meet this threshold of statistical significance. These are cairns and alignments, ceramics, FCR and thermal features, ground stone, and stone circles. Of these, ground stone is the weakest differentiator and stone circles the strongest. In general terms, then, the eastern group has significantly more sites with cairns/alignments, ceramics, and stone circles, and significantly fewer sites with FCR and thermal features than does the western group. This is not to say that there is no difference between the two areas in terms of rock art, housepits, or steatite artifacts, merely that given the current sample these variables do not significantly differ between the two groups. All three of these variables involve very low site counts (Table 1).Figure 1: Adjusted chi-squared residuals, artifact and feature types by East vs. West. East/West line placed between Ranges 84W and 85W. From left to right: cairns/alignments (C/A), ceramics (Cer), FCR/thermal features (FCR), ground stone (GS), housepits (HP), rock art (RA), stone circles (SC), and steatite (ST).
The results (Figure 2) indicate a clear separation of eastern and western areas in the sample. All of the Ranges west of R89W are located in a tight cluster in the lower right corner of the graph, while all Ranges east of R80W are clearly separated from the western cluster. The tight clustering of the western samples reflects large sample sizes and low variance, while the wider spread of eastern samples is probably produced by lower sample sizes. Interestingly, samples from R80-90W are located between the two other groups in a tight linear cluster, suggesting that this area is a kind of transition zone, consisting of a mix of the attributes that identify the western and eastern archaeological patterns. This could be produced either by a true cultural blend, or, perhaps more likely, by a cyclical shifting of the boundary between these two patterns with changes in paleoenvironmental conditions.Figure 2: Multidimensional scaling of site assemblages, grouped by Range.
Figure 3: Multidimensional scaling of site assemblages, grouped by Range, labeled E/W. Ranges 80-90W excluded from analysis.
It's hard to tell young people that universities recognize that their idealism and energy — and lack of information — are an exploitable resource. For universities, the impact of graduate programs on the lives of those students is an acceptable externality, like dumping toxins into a river. If you cannot find a tenure-track position, your university will no longer court you; it will pretend you do not exist and will act as if your unemployability is entirely your fault. It will make you feel ashamed, and you will probably just disappear, convinced it's right rather than that the game was rigged from the beginning.