Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 2023-10-08T18:38:20+03:00 Editorial team Open Journal Systems <p><em>Suomen Antropologi – Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society</em> is an open access peer-reviewed publication which accepts scholarly articles, review articles, research reports, critical essays, conference reports, book reviews, and news and information in the field of anthropology and related studies.</p> Bullshit Genres: What to Watch for When Studying the New Actant ChatGPT and Its Siblings 2023-10-08T12:35:21+03:00 Ilana Gershon <p>Another communication technology has been introduced, ChatGPT, drawing the attention of many pundits, occupying valuable space on every op-ed page, and inspiring a Hollywood writers’ strike and endless small talk, all steaming a bit with the intoxicating fumes of moral panic or outsized utopian enthusiasm. Research on artificial intelligence (AI) has existed for decades, entering many people’s daily lives in dribs and drabs. ChatGPT and its siblings, however, have focused so many people’s attention on the potential changes that AI could bring to work lives, entertainment, and social relationships that it seems worthwhile to take a moment now in 2023 to discuss what light linguistic and media anthropologists can shed on what is to come. I say this as one of a handful of media anthropologists also familiar with linguistic anthropology who happened to study people’s use of Facebook (alongside other media) only a few years after its introduction to the US media ecology (Gershon 2010). For more than a decade, I have been thinking about how media ecologies change with each newly introduced medium. Here, I lay out what I believe ethnographers of AI who engage with large language models (LLMs) might want to pay attention to in the next couple of years. My starting point is that it would be helpful to explore how people are responding to ChatGPT in terms of genre, that people’s reactions to ChatGPT is to treat it at its core as though it is a genre machine—that is, a machine intelligence that reproduces and tweaks genres in just the right way for human consumption.</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Introduction to the Book Forum on The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity 2023-10-08T12:13:51+03:00 Ville Laakkonen <p>Anthropology human’ other (American things, has as Anthropological ‘the been study described, of what Association makes amongst us 2023), ‘the science of human beings’ (Merriam–Webster Dictionary 2023), and ‘the comparative study of common sense’ (Herzfeld 2001: x). <em>The Dawn of Everything: A New History of&nbsp; Humanity</em>, by David Graeber and David Wengrow (2021), offers us an important suggestion of what ‘being human’ means: being creative and curious. Their argument is also common-sensical in that it brings to the fore something which is incredibly obvious when stated out loud, namely, that things—politics, economics, or society at large—do not have to be the way they are. Inequality, coercion, and hierarchy are unnecessary. That history of humanity is one of experimentation, polyphony, and imagination is, at the same time, a bold and much-needed argument at a time of seeming inevitability, of imminent&nbsp; ecological disaster, the mass extinction of species, dramatic world-wide disparities in wealth, health, and security, and a global political hegemony which gives us very little hope for something better. </p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 The Dawn of Everything: Social Science with a Mission 2023-10-08T12:19:22+03:00 Matti Eräsaari <p>The Dawn of Everything is a general-audience social science book with a mission. In a nutshell, the book argues against evolutionary accounts that view&nbsp; societal development as a trade-off involving increased social complexity, increased social control, and the loss of egalitarian ideals. Since Rousseau’s Social Contract, Graeber and Wengrow argue, Western thought has followed a ‘myth’ which sees inequality and coercion as necessary byproducts of the transition to higher states of civilisation. Laying out a broad array of recent archaeological and classic anthropological evidence, the authors argue that unilineal accounts of world history ignore too much evidence to the contrary to be convincing.</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Readying and Restructuring Relations and Imaginations 2023-10-08T12:23:01+03:00 Khalil 'Avi' Betz-Heinemann <p>The book The Dawn of Everything is an introduction to some of the diversity and surprising complexity of ancestral social lives written in an accessible, yet academic fashion. The book also develops a theory of human development as emerging from encounters between peoples. This sits in contrast to the idea of development as driven by isolated eureka moments at each stage of social evolution. As Bateson (2021) (mentioned in the book’s acknowledgements) noted,&nbsp; Stage theory… is&nbsp; BS’. In this review, I introduce what I think is one of the theoretical premises of the book in order to then focus on the book’s decentring of origin myths as driving human development. In doing so, I touch upon how the book’s relational approach differs from the more dominant approach in science. I then consider a number of categories used in the book, such as farming, to touch upon how categories are mobilised in scientific research and the implications of that mobilisation. I follow this by using a recent Netflix documentary series on ancient peoples and explore how ideas such as (pre)history are politically mobilised. I conclude by examining what the authors might mean when they invoke imagination.</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 The Dawn of Everything: A View From the Water 2023-04-11T16:57:17+03:00 Linda Hulin Veronica Walker Vadillo <p>The historiography of maritime archaeology is one of margins and peripheries. Linked to the development of underwater archaeology, efforts to advance theoretical frameworks within the discipline have been slow at best. There remains a widespread assumption—even among archaeologists—that maritime archaeology deals mostly with shipwrecks and underwater sites, and as such, has little to contribute to broader debates in archaeology. Archaeology remains a terrestrial affair that rarely engages with water worlds, and when it does, it retains its feet firmly on ground. So what do a land archaeologist and an economist have to offer to the world of maritime archaeology?</p> <p> </p> <p>In spite of its terrestrial focus,<em> The Dawn of Everything</em> speaks to a number of recurring issues in maritime archaeology, where scholars worry about the relationship between terrestrial states and maritime worlds. Such concerns are central to the very constitution of maritime societies: are they hierarchical or heterarchical; are they the same as, or different from the wider societies in which they sit? In the maritime discourse, environmental determinism takes a greater role than Graeber and Wengrow would admit in their book. Graeber and Wengrow’s interest in fluid societies that have the capacity to construct and deconstruct themselves seasonally find their best laboratory in maritime cultural worlds. Both the ancient past and the ethnographic present provide us with an opportunity to understand the contingency of power and decision-making, all within the framework of a seasonal environmental landscape. If nothing else, <em>The Dawn of Everything</em> encourages us to look at each society on its own terms, so let us start by getting our feet wet.</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Linda Hulin, Veronica Walker Vadillo Simplicity is Complicated: On the Effort of Creating and Maintaining Equality 2023-10-08T12:27:57+03:00 Tuomas Tammisto <p>A key point David Graeber and David Wengrow make in their mammoth work,<em> The Dawn of Everything</em> (2021), is that we humans are not by default predisposed to hierarchy or equality, but are first and foremost a socially creative species. In this essay, I take up Wengrow and Graeber’s notion that humans are ‘by default’ neither authoritarian nor egalitarian, but creative, noting that egalitarian forms of social organisation are complex, complicated, and require much work and effort. They are, in short, social and political achievements in their own right and manifestations of human social creativity. The work and effort that goes into an egalitarian social organisation is easily dismissed, and small-scale egalitarian societies, for example, are often referred to as ‘simple societies’ within popular discourse. In fact, during the launch of the Finnish translation of The Dawn of Everything in Helsinki on 23 March 2023, one of the panelists, a professor of global politics, insisted that societies have grown ‘more complex’ over time. This view has its parallel in the sphere of economics, such that commodity relations are viewed as the most sophisticated, elaborate, and complex forms of exchange, whilst modes such as sharing are viewed as the archaic baseline of exchange and, at worst, ‘simple’.</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Editors’ note: Student protests, historicities, and genres 2023-10-08T11:45:32+03:00 Tuomas Tammisto Heikki Wilenius <p>In this Editors' note we introduce two new members to our editorial team, discuss student protests in Finland and anthropologists' support for them, and introduce the texts to this issue. This issue is a special is guest-edited by Dmitry Arzyutov and Karina Lukin entitled 'Entangled historicities in the Eurasian<br>North' consisting of an introductory article by Aryutov and Lukin as well as research articles by Lukin, Otso Kortekangas, Art Leete and Victoria Peemot.</p> <p>In addition, this issue has a book forum on David Graeber's and David Wengrow's book <em>The Dawn of Everytihng: A New History of Humanity</em> (2021) curated by Ville Laakkonen, and contributions by Matti Eräsaari Khalil 'Avi' Betz-Heinemann, Linda Hulin and Veronica Walker Vadillo, and Tuomas Tammisto.</p> <p>The issue is completed by Ilana Gershon's essay on artificial intelligence, and Large Language Models (LLM) in particular, and genre.</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Encountering the Tsar 2022-04-20T10:56:05+03:00 Karina Lukin <p>This article discusses Nenets epic songs, focusing on two texts collected at the beginning of the twentieth century in relation to the divergent historicities they represent. The process of gathering and publishing folklore is analysed as folklorisation, whereby the texts have come to represent a negation of the modern, but not giving voice to the singers or their communities. Nenets epic songs have served Finnish nationalism and Russian imperialism in creating hierarchies between Finns and their linguistic relatives and between different Russian ethnic groups, including Russians and the Nenets. The process of traditionalisation is discussed as a local strategy of recreating meaningful narration that relates both to tradition and other contextually relevant discourses. The songs discussed are shown to depict not specific past events, but rather Nenets historical experiences and understandings about their subaltern position and agency within the imperial context.</p> <p>Keywords: Nenets, epic poetry, historicity, folklorisation, traditionalisation, imperialism</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Karina Lukin Toponymic Notions of Sámi Past(s) 2022-04-20T12:33:10+03:00 Otso Kortekangas <p>The Finnish geodesist and self-taught ethnographer Karl Nickul (1900–1980) studied the Indigenous toponymy among the Skolt Sámi in northeastern Finland. This article analyses Nickul’s early publications and international correspondence, focusing on the ways Nickul framed Sámi notions of the past as reflected in their toponymy. Nickul argued that the Sámi possessed the ‘moral right’ to name their own region and advocated for keeping these names in cartographic representations. According to Nickul, studying and documenting Sámi place names was a gateway to the mental imagery of the Sámi. Place names did not merely reflect the area ‘as it was’, but also reflected ancient events, beliefs, and livelihoods.</p> <p>Keywords: Sámi history, Sámi toponymy, situated knowledge, Indigenous toponymy, Karl Nickul, Skolt Sámi, Petsamo, Suenjel, Suonikylä</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Otso Kortekangas Narratives of Indigenous Resistance in North-Western Siberia in the 1930s 2022-05-27T15:51:22+03:00 Art Leete <p>The paper discusses official and Indigenous views of the Khanty and Forest Nenets uprising against the Soviets, known as the Kazym War (1931–1934). The rebellion is well documented in archival sources and covered by scholarly research, popular essays, and novels. Almost a century after the uprising, Indigenous narratives about the uprising are still circulating in local communities. Specifically, this paper addresses selected episodes of the Kazym War reflected both in official and Indigenous narratives. I focus on the analysis of diverse modes of narrating hybrid knowledge produced in a contact zone, and the mythic imagination of shamans shaping narratives about the uprising. Here, I argue that perceptions of Indigenous history sometimes adopt and reproduce the dominant discourse about the uprising, but link to the official story predominantly by rejecting it and establishing autonomous discussions.</p> <p><br />Keywords: Khanty, Forest Nenets, Indigenous, uprising, narratives, shaman</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Art Leete Storying with Homelands 2023-02-02T16:38:00+02:00 Victoria Soyan Peemot <p>Pastoralists who live in the Tyva Republic approach their home landscapes as sentient and engage with them through a reciprocal relationship. The sociality of landscapes builds upon a multigenerational belonging amongst Tyva kinship groups with their homelands. In this study, I explore how community-homeland belonging allows for a more-than-human practice of engaging with the past—storying with homelands. I draw on a case study, which involves the construction of a Buddhist stupa by the Soyan kinship group at a site named Chylgy-Dash in 2019. I suggest that the community’s storying with an endangered landscape aims, first, to bridge with the past across socialist decades when the state neglected human–nonhuman relationships, and, second, to enact and to story-into-being community-homeland belonging.</p> <p>Keywords: Indigenous historicities, more-than-human storytelling, memory politics, post-socialism, community-homeland belonging</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Victoria Soyan Peemot Introduction to Entangled Indigenous Historicities from the Eurasian North 2023-04-25T09:58:21+03:00 Dmitry Arzyutov Karina Lukin <p>The present collection examines the ways Indigenous peoples across the Eurasian North—Sámi, Nenets, Khanty, and Tyva—deal with the past and how their conceptualizations of the past are entangled with dominant ideologies in Russia and Finland, human-environment relations, and the colonial experiences they went through. The authors operate with the notion of historicity, which is understood in François Hartog’s terms as a 'temporal experience'. In the present collection, we expand this notion towards a relational nature of 'temporal experiences' where 'their' and 'our' historicities are not necessarily 'the same' or culturally determined but have been situated in long-term peaceful and conflictual encounters. Through those encounters, the diversity of meanings of the past has been shaped and developed within and between local communities and communities of scholars. The collection comprises the work of scholars from Folklore studies, Ethnology, Cultural studies, and History, who analyse Indigenous historicities through deep archival and field research.</p> <p>Keywords: historicities, ethnohistory, Indigenous peoples, Eurasian North</p> 2023-10-08T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Dmitry Arzyutov, Karina Lukin