There is a well-entrenched schism on the frequency, intensity, and evolutionary significance of warfare among hunter-gatherers compared with large-scale societies. To simplify, Rousseauians argue that warfare among prehistoric and contemporary hunter-gatherers was nearly absent and, if present, was a late cultural invention. In contrast, so-called Hobbesians argue that violence was relatively common but variable among hunter-gatherers. To defend their views, Rousseauians resort to a variety of tactics to diminish the apparent frequency and intensity of hunter-gatherer warfare. These tactics include redefining (...) war, censoring ethnographic accounts of warfare in comparative analyses, misconstruing archaeological evidence, and claiming that outside contact inflates the intensity of warfare among hunter-gatherers. These tactics are subject to critical analysis and are mostly found to be wanting. Furthermore, Hobbesians with empirical data have already established that the frequency and intensity of hunter-gatherer warfare is greater compared with large-scale societies even though horticultural societies engage in warfare more intensively than hunter-gatherers. In the end I argue that although war is a primitive trait we may share with chimpanzees and/or our last common ancestor, the ability of hunter-gatherer bands to live peaceably with their neighbors, even though war may occur, is a derived trait that fundamentally distinguishes us socially and politically from chimpanzee societies. It is a point often lost in these debates. (shrink)
_Yanomami_ raises questions central to the field of anthropology—questions concerning the practice of fieldwork, the production of knowledge, and anthropology's intellectual and ethical vision of itself. Using the Yanomami controversy—one of anthropology's most famous and explosive imbroglios—as its starting point, this book draws readers into not only reflecting on but refashioning the very heart and soul of the discipline. It is both the most up-to-date and thorough public discussion of the Yanomami controversy available and an innovative and searching assessment of (...) the current state of anthropology. The Yanomami controversy came to public attention through the publication of Patrick Tierney's best-selling book, _Darkness in El Dorado,_ in which he accuses James Neel, a prominent geneticist who belonged to the National Academy of Sciences, as well as Napoleon Chagnon, whose introductory text on the Yanomami is perhaps the best-selling anthropological monograph of all time, of serious human rights violations. This book identifies the ethical dilemmas of the controversy and raises deeper, structural questions about the discipline. A portion of the book is devoted to a unique roundtable in which important scholars on different sides of the issues debate back and forth with each other. This format draws readers into deciding, for themselves, where they stand on the controversy’s—and many of anthropology’s—central concerns. All of the royalties from this book will be donated to helping the Yanomami improve their healthcare. (shrink)
Considerable research on helpers-at-the-nest demonstrates the positive effects of firstborn daughters on a mother’s reproductive success and the survival of her children compared with women who have firstborn sons. This research is largely restricted to agricultural settings. In the present study we ask: “Does ‘daughter first’ improve mothers’ reproductive success in a hunting and gathering context?” Through an analysis of 84 postreproductive women in this population we find that the sex of the first- or second-born child has no effect on (...) a mother’s fertility or the survival of her offspring. We conclude that specific environmental and economic factors underlay the helpers-at-the-nest phenomenon. (shrink)
Birth order has been examined over a wide variety of dimensions in the context of modern populations. A consistent message has been that it is better to be born first. The analysis of birth order in this paper is different in several ways from other investigations into birth order effects. First, we examine the effect of birth order in an egalitarian, small-scale, kin-based society, which has not been done before. Second, we use a different outcome measure, fertility, rather than outcome (...) measures of social, psychological, or economic success. We find, third, that being born late in an egalitarian, technologically simple society rather than being born early has a positive outcome on fertility, and fourth, that number of older siblings and sibling set size are even stronger predictors of fertility, especially for males. (shrink)
In this study meal sharing is used as a way of quantifying food transfers between households. Traditional food-sharing studies measure the flow of resources between households. Meal sharing, in contrast, measures food consumption acts according to whether one is a host or a guest in the household as well as the movement of people between households in the context of food consumption. Our goal is to test a number of evolutionary models of food transfers, but first we argue that before (...) one tests models of who should receive food one must understand the adaptiveness of food transfers. For the Ye’kwana, economies of scale in food processing and preparation appear to set the stage for the utility of meal sharing. Evolutionary models of meal sharing, such as kin selection and reciprocal altruism, are evaluated along with non-evolutionary models, such as egalitarian exchange and residential propinquity. In addition, a modified measure of exchange balance—proportional balance—is developed. Reciprocal altruism is shown to be the strongest predictor of exchange intensity and balance. (shrink)
We have identified a sample of 53 societies outside of the classical Himalayan and Marquesean area that permit polyandrous unions. Our goal is to broadly describe the demographic, social, marital, and economic characteristics of these societies and to evaluate some hypotheses of the causes of polyandry. We demonstrate that although polyandry is rare it is not as rare as commonly believed, is found worldwide, and is most common in egalitarian societies. We also argue that polyandry likely existed during early human (...) history and should be examined from an evolutionary perspective. Our analysis reveals that it may be a predictable response to a high operational sex ratio favoring males and may also be a response to high rates of male mortality and, possibly, male absenteeism. Other factors may contribute, but our within-polyandry sample limits analysis. (shrink)
In the analysis of intergenerational transfer, several improvements can be made. First, following kin selection theory, grandparents have kin other than grandchildren in which to invest and therefore any investigation into grandparents should take this perspective. Secondly, how transfers actually enhance the survivorship of younger relatives such as grandchildren must be better measured, especially in the ethnographic literature. Finally, the problem of indirect investments or targeting must be considered.
In his state-of-the-art review, Gurven compares evolutionary theories of food transfers in ethnographic settings. Although this is useful, I suggest that one must first try to determine the utility of food transfers before making predictions about which parties ought to receive food. In addition, I argue that tests of kin selection theory present a special problem in food transfers.
Author Meets Critics Panel: Paul B. Thompson’s (2010) The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9340-4 Authors Raymond Anthony, Department of Philosophy, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
The apparent liberalism of Raymond Aron's thought can be understood only in the context of the questions asked by the "continental" philosophical tradition. Aron contends that the strong neo-Kantian and existentialist trends which came together in Weber's work serve to split man off from meaningful intercourse with the social world. Aron intends to re-establish that intercourse. He attempts to show precisely what the consequences and responsibilities of making choices are for a man "thrown" into the world. Politics becomes focused (...) around the choice of values in a world delineated only in negative terms. Aron's program yields a low number of generalizable empirical conclusions and policy recommendations, and this is instructive to those who wish to practice "good" social science. (shrink)