Tuesday, November 30, 2010

feasting done right

I really like the article by Deanna Grimstead and Frank Bayham published in the most recent American Antiquity. I won't review the whole thing, because it would just be a list of accolades, but I will say that I was particularly impressed by the approach, which blends behavioral ecology approaches with social theory.

Like many (all?) academic disciplines, zooarchaeology tends toward tribalism. There are a few large schools of thought that represent general approaches to the zooarchaeological record, and some of the people in those schools seem to blindly follow the party line, without acknowledging that there are multiple ways to look at the same data, and all could be equally valid. In certain ways, my own work tends to fall outside of the "standard" schools, and I've gotten some reviews that basically boil down to "she doesn't approach this topic the way I would, she doesn't use the same tools, she doesn't follow the acknowledge the same theoretical perspective, therefore, she must be wrong/inexperienced/ill-informed/ignorant of the One True Way."*

The Grimstead and Bayham article is all the more valuable for this reason. They are blending theoretical perspectives that are not often blended. Other zooarchaeologists are doing great work of this sort, but I particularly like this example, and hope to see more of it in the future.

*I especially love the reviews that assume I'm ignorant of the Truth, and suggest that I read a series of seminal articles in the field, as if I could have missed them. Gold stars go to any reviewer who suggests I read the articles of my own graduate advisor.


  1. I was particularly impressed by the reviewer who thought your use of "(X) models" indicated poor familiarity with the field, insisting that there was "only one (X) model". He/she then went on to point--for a good example of how to do the analysis--to a paper by your graduate adviser, in which said adviser referred, of course, to "(X) models"!

    -Dr. Mr. Palimpsest

  2. I haven't read that article yet, now I'm really looking forward to it!

    A least-favorite comment I tend to get is "Why did you use NISP here instead of MNI?" Um, because I don't think we need to rehash that argument in every single zooarchaeology paper in existence, thanks.