The 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2018)


Session 15. Going Beyond the "Biocultural Synthesis": Bridging Theory and Practice in Bioarchaeology. Invited Podium Symposium. Chair: Colleen M. Cheverko, Julia R. Prince-Buitenhuys, Mark Hubbe Co-organizers: Colleen M. Cheverko, The Ohio State University; Julia R. Prince-Buitenhuys, University of Notre Dame; Mark Hubbe, The Ohio State University

April 12, 2018 , Texas I Add to calendar

The biocultural synthesis has been advocated as a useful approach in bioarchaeological studies because it allows for the interpretation of biological phenomena observed on the skeleton within a cultural context, making it applicable to studies of the past. Although this approach has been applied as a method, theory, and epistemology within bioarchaeology, its applications to studies of the past demonstrate limitations. As a method, the biocultural approach is often shaped by epistemological and theoretical viewpoints that are not explicitly discussed. As a theory, it often overrides important anthropological theories such as embodiment or life history theory, and it can conflate the use of theories to build hypotheses. Lastly, as an epistemology, the biocultural approach is frequently used generally, without specific discussions about the assumptions that frame its use. As a result of these three limitations, the biocultural synthesis often enables bioarchaeologists to be less explicit about the anthropological theories they employ in their studies. This symposium was conceptualized to highlight current research that attempts to build upon the biocultural synthesis to advance discussions about how theory and practice can be applied to studies of the past as the field creates more holistic approaches within biological anthropology. Specific theoretical orientations, methods, and theoretical assumptions will be highlighted in each study. We foresee these papers will encourage researchers to be explicit when discussing which epistemologies are framing their research questions beyond the biocultural synthesis, because pursuing specific theoretical models enables more critical anthropological discussions and provides stronger arguments when addressing core questions about past human experiences. These papers, therefore, will facilitate ongoing discussions about how to bridge theoretical and practical applications within bioarchaeology.

2:30 Add to calendar Corporeal affect: human remains as subjects and objects in Cambodia. Julie M. Fleischman.
2:45 Add to calendar Structural Violence and Disease: Epistemological Considerations for Bioarchaeology. Lisa N. Bright, Joseph T. Hefner.
3:00 Add to calendar Extending the adaptive landscape metaphor into bioarchaeological theory and practice. Mark Hubbe, Colleen Cheverko.
3:15 Add to calendar Embodying Intimacy: Cranial Vault Modification as Child Rearing Practice. Christina Torres-Rouff.
3:30 Add to calendar A biocultural approach to reconstruct immune competence in past populations: searching for a new dialogue between immunology and bioarchaeology. Fabian Crespo.
3:45 Add to calendar When Biocultural isn’t Enough: the Evolutionary Becomings of Skulls. Julia R. Prince-Buitenhuys, Agustin Fuentes, Susan Guise Sheridan, Matthew J. Ravosa.
4:00 BREAK
4:30 Add to calendar Contextualizing the Biocultural Approach with Practice Theory: Physical Activity and Inequality During the Andean Middle Horizon and Late Intermediate Period. Sarah Schrader, Mark Hubbe, Christina Torres-Rouff.
4:45 Add to calendar Bioarchaeology Beyond Structure: Discussing Power and Inequality Through the Lens of Practice. Selin E. Nugent, Kellen N. Hope.
5:00 Add to calendar Putting theory into practice: biocultural reconstructions of gender and social identity relative to health and disease in past populations. Molly K. Zuckerman.
5:15 Add to calendar Making Silenced Voices Speak: Restoring neglected and ignored identities in anatomical collections. Carlina M. de la Cova.
5:30 Discussant: Haagen Klaus
5:45 Discussant: Agustin Fuentes