The Burden of Agriculture

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Leone, Mark P.
The comparative nature of anthropology is as old as the oldest definition of the discipline. That the generalizations resulting from comparisons have been in and out of vogue among anthropologists since the foundation of the subject reflects the intellectual vagaries of the field. Usually the generalizers have been too glib or too general and hence have said little of convincing worth. But it is equally true that the particularists have often been too particular and too minute and have ended by talking to audiences consisting chiefly of themselves. Right now we seem to be at mid-swing in the course of the generalizing-particularizing pendulum. There is a large competent body of ethnographers, archaeologists, and even ethnographic archaeologists. There is also a growing group who occasionally make generalizations. These are no longer received with glacial chill, but are greeted with, at least, indifference and even with some warmth. This paper is a contribution to generalizations and it is one which could not be possible without the sound factual contribution made so consistently and well in two major cultural areas.