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New Books - July
Anthropology of Fear by
"Avoiding the lure of a psychological conceptualisation of fear, all chapters in this volume substantiate the criticism towards specific postmodern trends in anthropology that would rather focus on the individual dimension of fear, thus missing its social aspects. Fear cannot and must not be reduced to an emotional phenomenon, but must rather be regarded by anthropologists as the prime mover of rational management in dangerous or risky situations. The various forms of fear appear to be shaped by societies." -- Christian Giordano, U. of Fribourg (Series: Fribourg Studies in Social Anthropology / Freiburger Sozialanthropologische Studien / Etudes d'Anthropologie Sociale de l'Universite de Fribourg - Vol. 41)
Fixing the Books by
This work presents Erin Debenport's research on an indigenous language literacy effort within a New Mexico Pueblo community, and the potential of that literacy to compromise Pueblo secrecy.
Egypt in the First Millennium AD by
This volume contains the proceedings of the twenty-first annual British Museum International Egyptology Colloquium, which was the first in the series dedicated to post-pharaonic Egypt. The volume investigates continuity and change in the archaeological record in the First Millennium AD, focusing on the transitions to and from Late Antiquity (AD 250-800), when Egypt's population became Christian and, later, Islam was introduced. The fourteen contributors, representing the overlapping disciplines of Egyptology, Archaeology and Art History with specialisations in the pharaonic, Roman and Late Antique periods, present the results of new archaeological research at a range of sites currently under investigation. Seeking to identify trends and compare results, the volume is organised according to four major themes: 1) settlements, 2) cemeteries, 3) settling rock-cut tombs and quarries and 4) temple-church-mosque. Many of the contributions address adaptive reuse of earlier architecture, the recycling of earlier monuments as building material (i.e., spolia), or both. Traditionally neglected by modern scholars in favour of other periods in Egypt's long history, the study of First Millennium AD archaeology offers increasingly better opportunities to evaluate both Egypt's distinctiveness and its role within the wider Mediterranean region.
The Fourth Cataract and Beyond by
The 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies was held at the British Museum, London, from 1st-6th August 2010. The conference, held every four years, is the only international gathering of archaeologists and scholars from associated disciplines which considers all aspects of Sudan and southern Egypt's ancient and more recent past. The main sessions, and main papers published herein, were devoted to a consideration of the Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project, its aftermath and impact. Over de previous decade this has been the major focus of archaeological activity on the Middle Nile. The dam is now complete and the reservoir is filled, drawing a line under the fieldwork component of the project. It was felt timely, therefore, in the interim to obtain an overview of what was found during the many years of intensive work and the first main paper speaker in each session sought to do just that. They were followed by reports on sites, categories of objects and more thematic papers arranged broadly by period. These highlight that, while the focus of archaeological activity still remains in the Nile Valley where there is the densest concentration of sites and also where there remains the most concentrated threat to their survival, much work is being undertaken away from the river and in some cases outside its catchment area. The role of the deserts is increasingly being appreciated while the role of the savannah and areas even further south have yet to be given the prominence that they probably deserve.
New Books - July
Tecumseh, Keokuk, Black Hawk by
The colonisation of the world by European powers led to the production of a wealth of images of the colonised cultures and peoples. Images of North American Indians play an important role in our visual culture. This publication illuminates how they are r
Historical Archaeology in South Africa by
This volume documents the analysis of excavated historical archaeological collections at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. The corpus provides a rich picture of life and times at this distant outpost of an immense Dutch seaborne empire during the contact period. Representing over three decades of excavation, conservation, and analysis, the book examines ceramics, glass, metal, and other categories of artifacts in their archaeological contexts. An enclosed CD includes a video reconstruction plus a comprehensive catalog and color illustrations of the artifacts in the corpus. The parallels and contrasts this volume reveals will help scholars studying the European expansion period to build a richer comparative picture of colonial material culture.
Ancient Teotihuacan by
First comprehensive English-language book on the largest city in the Americas before the 1400s. Teotihuacan is a UNESCO world heritage site, located in highland central Mexico, about twenty-five miles from Mexico City, visited by millions of tourists every year. The book begins with Cuicuilco, a predecessor that arose around 400 BCE, then traces Teotihuacan from its founding in approximately 150 BCE to its collapse around 600 CE. It describes the city's immense pyramids and other elite structures. It also discusses the dwellings and daily lives of commoners, including men, women, and children, and the craft activities of artisans. George L. Cowgill discusses politics, economics, technology, art, religion, and possible reasons for Teotihuacan's rise and fall. Long before the Aztecs and 800 miles from Classic Maya centers, Teotihuacan was part of a broad Mesoamerican tradition but had a distinctive personality that invites comparison with other states and empires of the ancient world.
The Impotence Epidemic by
Since the 1990s China has seen a dramatic increase in the number of men seeking treatment for impotence. Everett Yuehong Zhang argues in The Impotence Epidemic that this trend represents changing public attitudes about sexuality in an increasingly globalized China. In this ethnography he shifts discussions of impotence as a purely neurovascular phenomenon to a social one. Zhang contextualizes impotence within the social changes brought by recent economic reform and through the production of various desires in post-Maoist China. Based on interviews with 350 men and their partners from Beijing and Chengdu, and concerned with de-mystifying and de-stigmatizing impotence, Zhang suggests that the impotence epidemic represents not just trauma and suffering, but also a contagion of individualized desire and an affirmation for living a full life. For Zhang, studying male impotence in China is one way to comprehend the unique experience of Chinese modernity.
New Books - July
The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack by
In his new bookThe Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack, human paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall argues that a long tradition of "human exceptionalism" in paleoanthropology has distorted the picture of human evolution. Drawing partly on his own career--from young scientist in awe of his elders to crotchety elder statesman--Tattersall offers an idiosyncratic look at the competitive world of paleoanthropology, beginning with Charles Darwin 150 years ago, and continuing through the Leakey dynasty in Africa, and concluding with the latest astonishing findings in the Caucasus. The book's title refers to the 1856 discovery of a clearly very old skull cap in Germany's Neander Valley. The possessor had a brain as large as a modern human, but a heavy low braincase with a prominent brow ridge. Scientists tried hard to explain away the inconvenient possibility that this was not actually our direct relative. One extreme interpretation suggested that the preserved leg bones were curved by both rickets, and by a life on horseback. The pain of the unfortunate individual's affliction had caused him to chronically furrow his brow in agony, leading to the excessive development of bone above the eye sockets. The subsequent history of human evolutionary studies is full of similarly fanciful interpretations. With tact and humor, Tattersall concludes that we are not the perfected products of natural processes, but instead the result of substantial doses of random happenstance.
Rituals of Ethnicity by
Rituals of Ethnicity is a transnational study of the relationships between mobility, ethnicity, and ritual action. Through an ethnography of the Thangmi, a marginalized community who migrate between Himalayan border zones of Nepal, India and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, Shneiderman offers a new explanation for the persistence of enduring ethnic identities today despite the increasing realities of mobile, hybrid lives. She shows that ethnicization may be understood as a process of ritualization, which brings people together around the shared sacred object of identity. The first comprehensive ethnography of the Thangmi, Rituals of Ethnicity is framed by the Maoist-state civil conflict in Nepal and the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland in India. The histories of individual nation-states in this geopolitical hotspot--as well as the cross-border flows of people and ideas between them--reveal the far-reaching and mutually entangled discourses of democracy, communism, development, and indigeneity that have transformed the region over the past half century. Attentive to the competing claims of diverse members of the Thangmi community, from shamans to political activists, Shneiderman shows how Thangmi ethnic identity is produced collaboratively by individuals through ritual actions embedded in local, national, and transnational contexts. She builds upon the specificity of Thangmi experiences to tell a larger story about the complexities of ethnic consciousness: the challenges of belonging and citizenship under conditions of mobility, the desire to both lay claim to and remain apart from the civil society of multiple states, and the paradox of self-identification as a group with cultural traditions in need of both preservation and development. Through deep engagement with a diverse, cross-border community that yearns to be understood as a distinctive, coherent whole, Rituals of Ethnicity presents an argument for the continued value of locally situated ethnography in a multi-sited world.
Memory Boxes by
This volume adopts a practical approach to cultural transfer and exchange through the concept of "memory box." Ideas of displacement, transfer, and cultural memory are explored through case studies in Scotland, Italy, and Germany, from Finland and France to the American colonies. The volume's contributors develop an understanding of memory boxes as cultural constructions involved in the process of making and disputing memory--yet that, simultaneously, are important agents for cultural transfer over space and time. The book emphasizes memory box as an idea that allows us to study the cultural processes of transfer in conjunction with cultural memory.