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Volume 55 / Social Sciences


South America

BETTY J. MEGGERS, Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution

AFTER A SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE in the number of entries for HLAS 53, the total for this volume is the lowest in 30 years. This reduction is not a consequence of annotating symposia and proceedings of congresses as single works, since this policy was adopted several years ago. The number of entries per country remains proportionally the same, implying a general decline in productivity throughout South America. Peru, for example, accounts for 36 percent of the entries in HLAS 53 and 34 percent here, although the total output is nearly 50 percent lower. For the first time, however, the number of Peruvian authors equals the number of foreign authors.

Another interesting development is a surge of regional and local syntheses authored by nationals for non-specialists. Two general works on Peru, one extending from its initial peopling to European contact (item bi 00000000) and the other terminating at the end of the formative (item bi 94016564), make explicit their desire to provide an Andean perspective on prehistoric cultural development. Similar motivation is reflected in a review of the prehispanic history of Ayacucho (item bi 94007124) and the use of Inca sacred geography to interpret Inca site location and architecture (item bi 94009257). A summary of Venezuelan prehistory was produced to counteract the general view that the precolumbian cultures are irrelevant to defining Venzuelan national identity (item bi 94009244). Regional and local syntheses directed toward the general public have also appeared in Colombia (item bi 00000000), Brazil (item bi 00000000), Ecuador (item bi 00000000), Chile (item bi 00000000), and Argentina (item bi 00000000).

Growing interest in the past is evidenced by large university enrollments, especially in Peru, in spite of meager funds for fieldwork and poor job prospects. Suspension of traditional scientific series in Peru has stimulated efforts to develop new journals, notably the Revista de Ciencias Sociales "Pacífico" which focuses on Chimbote and the Revista de Investigaciones, edited by the Centro de Estudiantes de Arqueología, Univ. Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, which accepts articles on all aspects of archaeology. In Chile and Colombia, by contrast, quality serials and books appear regularly. The three volumes of Actas from the 11th Congreso Nacional de Arqueología Chilena (items bi 96004186, bi 96004948, and bi 96004956) and the two volumes of Actas from its 12th congress are important general references (items bi 96004164 and bi 96004908).

Among individual volumes deserving mention are the first major history of Brazilian archaeology (item bi 94007117), a comprehensive analysis of the typological variations among metal plaques from northeastern Argentina as a basis for inferring their function and ideology (item bi 94000959), and an exposé of the fallacious reasoning behind persistent rumors of "lost" Inca treasure (item bi 94009251).

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