Books reviewed in this issue.
The Gift of a Bride: A Tale of Anthropology, Matrimony and Murder, Serena Nanda and Joan Gregg.
Assisted Dying: An Ethnographic Murder Mystery on Florida's Gold Coast, Serena Nanda and Joan Gregg.
Film reviewed in this issue.
The Act of Killing (2012/2014). 115 & 159 minute versions. Director: Joshua Oppenheimer. Co-directors: Anonymous and Christine Cynn. Cinematographers: Carlos Arango de Montis and Lars Skree.
India possesses a unique Neolithic transition that has shaped the cultural and ecological trajectory of the subcontinent. Much archaeological research has focused on the Indus Valley civilization. In contrast, little is known about the Neolithic roots of the subcontinent. During the early Holocene, South Asia was a subcontinent of hunter-gatherers, by 2000 years ago it was mostly inhabited by farmers, with densely populated river valleys, coastal plains, urban populations, states, and even empires. While some of the crops that supported these early civilizations had been introduced from other centers of origin (the Near East, China, Africa), a large proportion had local origins from wild plants native to the subcontinent. The bio-geographical evidence for the wild progenitors of a number of plant species, together with their occurrence early in regional Neolithic traditions, argues for their local, independent origins and subsequent domestication in India. The ecological niches of these wild progenitors varied but ranged from the savannahs to the nearby moister deciduous woodlands which include the South Deccan, Gujarat, and the western Himalayan foothills, as well as the Ganges basin. It is likely that local domestication events in India were occurring alongside agricultural dispersals from other parts of the world in an interconnected mosaic of cultivation, pastoralism, and vegetation management through burning and transplanting. As humans in South Asia increasingly relied on a narrower range of plant species, they became entangled in an increasingly precarious and fixed trajectory that allowed them greater subsistence levels to sustain larger populations and increased sedentism.