Re: Evolutionary Thoughts

Michael Thomas Carson (mcarson@HAWAII.EDU)
Sat, 9 Sep 1995 02:50:32 -1000

John Giacobbe has opened up the opportunity for us to talk about an
evolutionary framework in anthropology. Wow, what an exciting topic.

I've been interested in evolutionary theory in archaeology for a little
while now. My opinion is that it's very powerful in a theoretical
explanatory sort of way. But my criticism is that it is impractical.
There are many issues of human behavior which cannot be addressed.
Further, the data from the archaeological record must be of extremely and
unusually fine detail. I think archaeologists have been bogged-down by
the ideas of Robert Dunnell, restricting our visions of what a scientific
archaeology should be or is capable of being. In a more open-minded
perspective, I think evolutionary theory can be more practical. An
interesting thing to notice is that for about 20 years now, almost every
paper written about evolutionary archaeology includes a phrase like:
"Evolutionary archaeology is more of a dream than a reality."

I'm sorry for the emphasis on archaeology and not general anthropology,
but I think it's important here. Evolutionary theory explains variation
temporally and spatially. The combintion of time and space is usually
within the domain of archaeology.

Anyway, I won't overburden people right now with too much text to read in
a single message. I'd rather hear from other people about thier ideas.

- Mike Carson