Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Wiessner, Polly
Location University of Utah
Primary Field Anthropology
 Election Citation
Integrating ethnographic, ethnohistoric and archeological approaches, Wiessner demonstrated the ecological importance of exchange among hunter-gatherers and documented its role in mediating conflict in more complex pre-literate societies. Her work on material correlates of identity and exchange allows archaeologists to track the emergence of uniquely human behaviors in the distant past.
 Research Interests
Wiessner began her research with the Ju/?hoansi Bushmen of the Kalahari addressing the question of how foragers construct far-flung social security to reduce risk in a harsh desert environment. She is following risk reduction strategies and the development of social inequalities as the Ju/?hoansi shift from a hunting and gathering lifestyle to a mixed economy in this rapidly changing world. She is also studying Bushman campfire stories, asking the question of what happened to human sociality as firelight altered circadian rhythms and extended the day with economically unproductive, but socially productive hours. Together with Andrew Zipkin and John Kinahan, she is conducting studies of isotopic variation in ostrich eggshell ornaments and their potential for tracking the evolution of social networks in southern Africa. At her second field site among the Enga of Papua New Guinea, she is following changes in warfare after bows and arrows were replaced by high-powered weapons and studying how customary law courts are using restorative justice to update ?custom? to adapt to changes in practice made possible by new technologies.

 
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