The 2007 Annual Review of Anthropology

Yann tells us that the 2007 Annual Reveiw of Anthropology is out, and all the content is open access to boot! He’s rounded up some interesting reviews. Here are mine,

Çatalhöyük in the Context of the Middle Eastern Neolithic
Ian Hodder

This review aims to show how the new results from Çatalhöyük in central Turkey contribute to wider theories about the Neolithic in Anatolia and the Middle East. I argue that many of the themes found in symbolism and daily practice at Çatalhöyük occur very early in the processes of village formation and the domestication of plants and animals throughout the region. These themes include a social focus on memory construction; a symbolic focus on wild animals, violence, and death; and a central dominant role for humans in relation to the animal world. These themes occur early enough throughout the region that we can claim they are integral to the development of settled life and the domestication of plants and animals. Particularly the focus on time depth in house sequences may have been part of the suite of conditions, along with environmental and ecological factors, that “selected for” sedentism and domestication.

The Archaeology of Sudan and Nubia
David N. Edwards

This review explores recent research within the territory of the modern Sudan and Nubia. One special interest of this region’s history and archaeology lies in its role as a zone of interaction between diverse cultural traditions linking sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt, the Mediterranean world, and beyond. The exceptionally early development of large-scale polities in the Middle Nile also offers remarkable opportunities for exploring the archaeology of the development of political power as well as for exploring research topics of a wide significance, both within and beyond African archaeology, such as the development of agriculture, urbanism, and metallurgy. The unique opportunities offered by the Nile corridor for trans-Saharan contacts have also ensured that the region’s archaeology provides an extraordinary scope for exploring the interplay and interaction of indigenous and external cultural traditions, often very obviously manifested in the material worlds of the region: from their encounters with Pharaonic Egypt to the incorporation of Nubian kingdoms into medieval Christendom and the creation of new Arab and Muslim identities in the postmedieval world.

Genomic Comparisons of Humans and Chimpanzees
Ajit Varki and ­David L. Nelson

The genome consists of the entire DNA present in the nucleus of the fertilized embryo, which is then duplicated in every cell in the body. A draft sequence of the chimpanzee genome is now available, providing opportunities to better understand genetic contributions to human evolution, development, and disease. Sequence differences from the human genome were confirmed to be 1% in areas that can be precisely aligned, representing 35 million single base-pair differences. Some 45 million nucleotides of insertions and deletions unique to each lineage were also discovered, making the actual difference between the two genomes 4%. We discuss the opportunities and challenges that arise from this information and the need for comparison with additional species, as well as population genetic studies. Finally, we present a few examples of interesting findings resulting from genome-wide analyses, candidate gene studies, and combined approaches, emphasizing the pros and cons of each approach.

The Genetic Reinscription of Race
Nadia Abu El-Haj

Critics have debated for the past decade or more whether race is dead or alive in “the new genetics”: Is genomics opening up novel terrains for social identities or is it reauthorizing race? I explore the relationship between race and the new genetics by considering whether this “race” is the same scientific object as that produced by race science and whether these race-making practices are animated by similar social and political logics. I consider the styles of reasoning characteristic of the scientific work together with the economic and political rationalities of neo-liberalism, including identity politics as it meets biological citizenship. I seek to understand why and how group-based diversity emerges as an object of value—something to be studied and specified, something to be fought for and embraced, and something that is profitable—in the networks that sustain the world of (post)genomics today.

I think Razib, and some of the contributors at Gene Expression, will be especially interested in the last one.

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