Re: Put it on the ground (was Re: biocultural evolution)

Matthew S. Tomaso (Tomaso@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU)
Sat, 23 Sep 1995 17:30:05 -0500

>Thanks to all who have responded to my recent challenge - especially to
Robert Wenke for the references concerning application of neo-evolutionary
thought. I am familiar with Dave Rindos and his work, and I have been
impressed (Howdy Dave!). What I was hoping to do in my post/challenge was
more in line, however, with what Richard Spear brought up - a few examples
which we might all collaboratively work with (hopefully with input from
Rindos and other experts), as a learning experience (certainly, we can't all
be experts, can we?). I though that this exercise might be a more
appropriate use of this forum than the usual one-uppersonship and chest
beating contests. Nick Corduan also discussed examples, but I fail to see
why an understanding of the dimensions of time and history depends on
evolutionary concepts. Nick is correct in the implication that evolution is
generally applicable to modeling change, but we really don't need a
wholesale adoption of evolutionary theory to be able to distinguish
diachrony from some sort of imagined linear form of history (e.g. -
arguments which emphasize 'cultural continuity'). Perhaps Nick needs to
elaborate why he thinks evolutionary models are more capable of generating
an objectifiable cultural identity in prehistory than most contemporary
ethnographers can find in the present. In either the culture history or
'continuity' approach to archaeology, a wide variety of problematic
assumptions about cultural identity and its expression in the archaeological
record are made. John Mcreery expressed a point of view basically similar
to mine. I remain open minded regarding an evolutionary approach, but not
overly optimistic. Change my mind?? maybe.
Matt Tomaso.
Anthropology. University of Texas at Austin.
Phone/Fax 512-453-6256