Brown, Clifford MVN wrote:
Among the many examples of this phenomenon that I can think of are
> 1) the almost psychotic inability of North American prehistorians to accept
> any of the evidence from Latin America for pre-Clovis occupations, and
As a North American who never had any emotional attachment to Clovis, I
would like to point out that a) Until Monte Verde was actually
published, there was little to no credible evidence to support
pre-clovis; b) now that they've actually seen the evidence, rather than
anecdotes, Monte Verde is now accepted by many of the most hard-core
Clovis types as representing preclovis (see Meltzer et al's Am. Ant.
article). c) Please note that one reason preClovis sites were looked on
with extreme scepticism was due to the fact that they advocated very
early dates that are now invalidated--Adovasio's original 19k dates for
Meadowcroft have been downgraded to 13k, as have Dillehay's original
claims of circa 36k for Monte Verdes.
> the evident inability of most North American processualists and
> neo-evolutionists to accept that migrations have had any meaningful impact
> on prehistory.
Again, this is a misrepresentation, and a very glaring one at that.
Most North Americans reacted against the extreme
migrationalist/diffusionist models of the 30s and 40s. However, the
'standard processualists' discuss migrations of importance in the
southwest (e.g., Navajo/Puebloans), Plains (e.g. Coalescent Tradition),
Arctic (e.g., Thule/Dorset), Mississippi Valley (e.g., Oneota/Middle
Mississippian), Great Lakes (e.g., ProtoIroquoisan Algonkian and Sioux
speakers in Late prehistory). What processualist *do* say about
migrations is that 1) they shouldn't be invoked at the first sign of
change of material culture, as had too often been the case in the past;
and b) they don't explain why change has occurred--that is, why
movements at that time/place?
> To these two one can add the remarkable ability of processualists to
> ignore the whole postmodern critique. They are like people humming to
> ignore someone else talking at them.
Actually, the antiprocessualist critique has not been ignored at
all--some parts have been accepted and assimilated, the more extreme
aspects (e.g., relativism) have been discredited. Read Kuznar's
"Reclaiming a Scientific Anthropology" for one good response to the
critique. Read Alison Wylie's 92(?) Am. Ant. article on feminist
archaeology--where she gamely pats Tilley, Shanks, and Hodder on the
back while having to point out that their relativistic arguments are
"incoherent". Read Proucel's (ed.) Processual and Post Processual
Archaeologies, where you'll see a good dialogue between pomos and
You should know your North American archaeology a bit better before you
make claims about what North Americans do.
Labels can be very confusing. I consider myself to be a pretty hard
core processual archaeologist--but having "grown up" in a hotbed of
Binfordism (my profs were Stuart Streuver, James A. Brown, Robert K.
Vierra, Robin Torrence), I learned to do an archaeology that is entirely
unrecognizable from the caricature painted by antiprocessualist
Amazingly, two years ago, in a SAA symposium on science, agency and
lithic technology, I was called by Richard Gould a
postprocessualist--right alongside folks like Ken Sassaman and Charles
Cobb (both very good guys, but whom I would consider much more pomo than
How do I love thee?
The ways are as many as
My hairs on your clothes.
Robert J. Jeske, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53201
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