The State of Biological Anthropology in 2008: Is Our Discipline Strong and Our Cause Just?


T Biological anthropologists inform a largely professional discourse on the evolutionary history of our species. In addition, aspects of our biology, the ways in which we vary, and certain patterns of behavior are the subjects of a more public and popular conversation. The social contexts in which we work not only define our times but also produce the anthropologists that in turn construct an emergent understanding of our species’ (and our societies’) inner workings. In this review of scholarly production, I focus on developments within a selection of “sub-subdisciplines” that were particularly influential in bending the arc of biological anthropology in 2008, namely: evolutionary medical anthropology, anthropological neuroscience, forensic anthropology, primatology, and paleoanthropology. Ultimately, this review demonstrates, yet again, anthropology’s great contribution: the ability to incorporate new technologies and research methodologies into a synthetic and integrative interdisciplinary approach toward the elucidation of human behavior, evolution, and biocultural engagements with the environment. [Keywords: biological anthropology, year in review, 2008, science and society