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Noteworthy Books Received by the Journal of the North Atlantic

Journal of the North Atlantic, Volume 1 (2008): 120–125

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120 Noteworthy Books Received by the Journal of the North Atlantic, Vol. 1, 2008 Towards an Archaeology of the Nain Region, Labrador. Bryan C. Hood. Edited by William W. Fitzhugh. 2008. Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA. 366 pp. $34.95, softcover. ISBN 9780981614205. In this impressive new offering from the Arctic Studies Center, Bryan Hood brings together the results of research carried out in the 1980s to 1990s in two portions of the Nain area, one of the most thoroughly investigated regions of Labrador: Nukasusutok Island and Webb Bay/Port Manvers Run. Taking a case-study approach, Hood seeks to place some of the archaeological material recovered at these sites within the context of theoretical and methodological issues of wider signifi cance. The text starts out with an introduction to Hood’s approach, his use of the social structuration of space as a theoretical theme which runs throughout his analysis, the history of archaeological research in the area, and an outline of central and northern Labrador culture- history. Next, an overview of the environment of the Nain region is presented, including what is known of paleoenvironmental changes. A chapter devoted to a detailed discussion of the theory and methodology used in the analysis of social space precedes the heart of the book—the presentation of Hood’s research fi ndings in chapters organized by geographical subregion rather than chronology or cultural period. The book ends with a chapter on the structuration of maritime Archaic/Pre-Dorset social boundaries in Labrador, which examines regional landscape organization in a manner that refl ects on the implications of the debate between the competing archaeological paradigms of “humans as adaptive beings in nature versus humans as cultural beings constructing their own worlds of signifi cance,” followed by a concluding chapter in which Hood briefl y refl ects on and ties together all of the preceding text. Illustrated with 234 fi gures, including detailed drawings and numerous black and white photos, and complimented by 95 tables and an extensive references cited section, this text is sure to be of importance to archaeological and anthropological researchers working in Atlantic Canada, as well as of interest to all others who are curious about the early cultural history of the region. Critical Inuit Studies: An Anthology of Contemporary Arctic Ethnography. Pamela Stern and Lisa Stevenson (Editors). 2006. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, USA. 302 pp. $29.95, softcover. ISBN 9780803293489. In this intriguing collection of essays from more than a dozen scholars from six countries currently working with Native communities in circumpolar North America, Stern and Stevenson provide a very accessible overview of the state of Inuit studies. The wide range of topics covered in this collection are organized into three sections. The fi rst looks explicitly and critically at the research methods commonly used in Inuit studies, and how the methods themselves interact with the communities being studied, and the possibilities for innovative approaches that can come from the exchange. The second section contains essays which illustrate how the conception of culture has been cast for political and ethical ends by both researchers and Inuit. The fi nal section examines the role of space and place in Inuit culture and in the history of Inuit studies. Taken all together, these very readable essays provide a wealth of insights into all aspects of Inuit life and the ways our perceptions of others are shaped by the lens we look through. An extensive index and bibliography are included to aid further research. Highly recommended for students and scholars of Native communities in general and the Arctic in particular. Circumpolar Lives and Livelihood: A Comparative Ethnoarchaeology of Gender and Subsistence. Robert Jaarvenpa and Hetty Jo Brumbach (Editors). 2006. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, USA. 330 pp. $24.95, hardcover. ISBN 9780803226067. This innovative study utilizes taskdifferentiation methodology in a controlled, four-way, cross-cultural comparison of Chipewyan hunterfi shers of Canada, Khanty hunter-fi sher-herders of Western Siberia, Sámi intensive reindeer herders of northwestern Finland, and Iñupiaq maritime hunters of the Bering Strait of Alaska to reassess one of the key anthropological concepts: the sexual division of labor. This book is the culmination of an international, multiyear fi eld research project entitled “Gender Dynamics and Subsistence Systems in Circumpolar Societies: An Ethnoarchaeological Interpretation.” Using formal interviews with middle-aged and elderly members of both sexes of the societies studied who could speak with authority about community change in the 20th century, the authors integrated questions concerning the social, spatial, temporal, and material dimensions of specifi c economic tasks—most notably those relating to the acquisition and processing of food resources—to document the complex patterns of men’s and women’s involvement and the relationship of such behaviors to the built landscape. The results of the study provide some very interesting revelations, particularly about the role of women in these arctic cultures. After an introductory chapter that gives an overview of the history behind and the approaches used in the study, the book is organized to take the reader step-by-step through the case materials and analyses for each cummunity. An orientation chapter for each describes the environment, history, 2008 Noteworthy Books 121 society, and culture of the people. Illustrations, maps, tables, notes, and references supplement each chapter of the text. Highly recommended for those interested in the issues surrounding gender and subsistence as well as students and scholars of arctic ethnography. The Arctic Promise: Legal and Political Autonomy of Greenland and Nunavut. Natalia Loukacheva. 2007. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON, Canada. 255 pp. $27.95, softcover. ISBN 9780802094865. This book takes an innovative “bottom-up” approach to studying the concept of autonomy, by showing how a de facto comprehension of the right to autonomy in Greenland and Nunavut is evolving towards greater legal recognition. Loukacheva seeks to reduce the ambiguities surrounding the right to self-governance in areas where indigenous peoples are the majority through both an empirical approach and using some elements of normative analysis. Her methods include cultural immersion and comparative legal and historical analyses. She identifi es and addresses many diffi cult questions and challenges inherent in the process such as how does indigenous people’s law fi t into the process of legal transformation, and how to apply non-Native approaches to research on Inuit perceptions on governance when, despite the evolution of the modern Inuit Language, it still has no precise defi nition of the notion of autonomy and there is no unanimity among the Inuit regarding what this notion means. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the history of the Inuit in these regions from pre-European contact to the present. Chapter 2 explores the constitutional dimensions of the governance of Nunavut and Greenland. Chapter 3 examines the structure of the political institutions in these two regions. Jurisdictional issues and challenges are the focus of Chapter 4. The fi nal chapter looks at the current status and potential for participation of Nunavut and Greenland in international affairs. Sixty-two pages of notes and an extensive bibliography provide ample resources for those seeking to do further research. With the recent vote for self-governance by the residents of Greenland reported on prominently in the news, this book offers an in-depth exploration behind a very timely and signifi cant political development in the arctic world. As such, it should be of interest to all concerned with the North Polar region. Ohthere’s Voyages: A Late 9th-century Account of Voyages Along the Coasts of Norway and Denmark and its Cultural Context. Janet Bately and Anton Englert (Editors). 2007. Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, Denmark. 216 pp. DKK 299/€ 40, hardcover. ISBN 9788785180476. The 9th-century Norwegian seafarer Ohthere’s account of his voyages along the coast of Norway and Denmark, told to the West Saxon king Alfred, were recorded and later inserted into the Old English version of the late Roman world history by Orosius. It is the earliest known description of the North by a Scandinavian, and as such, has been debated by a growing number of linguists, historians, archaeologists, and other scholars. This book, the fi rst volume in a new series entitled Maritime Culture of the North, adds signifi cantly to the discussion with a compilation of essays by experts analyzing the geographical, cultural, nuatical, and economic context of Ohthere’s account. The fi rst section presents a reprinting of the original source, along with a translation by Blately and detailed notes and discussion on the translation process. The second section presents two essays exploring the northern geography and political organization of early Scandinavia. The third section contains essays that examine what we know of the life and livelihood of the peoples in Scandinavia during Ohthere’s time. The fourth section discusses nautical aspects of the account—his ship and the routes he likely took. The fi fth section presents a series of essays that seek to clarify and describe the destinations of the voyages. The fi nal section discusses the communication, exchange, and trade that existed among the peoples of the region during Ohthere’s time. Taken all together, they present a fascinating glimpse of the early Viking Age. Numerous maps and illustrations accompany the text and add to the informative value of this volume. A Bibliography on the Imagined North: Arctic, Winter, Antarctic. Daniel Chartier. 2007. Presses de l’Université du Québec, Montreal, PQ, Canada. 741 pp. $CAD 84/ € 60, softcover. ISBN 9782923385099. This unusual book is actually a 12,000-entry critical bibliography of works related to “the Idea of the North,” as the author puts it. The entries are organized into three broad categories: the territories of nordicity (from Alaska to Greenland to Thule to Yukon), the critical and theoretical cultural perspectives of the North ( such as Amerindian, colonization, Greenland Inuit, romanticism, Viking culture, etc.), and the methodologies used to grasp the “the Idea of the North” (e.g., anthropology, archaeology, images, women’s studies, etc.) Within each broad category, the entries are organized by sub-category (such as Alaska or Amerindian perspective), with articles listed fi rst, followed by books. All sub-categories are listed alphabetically, as are the entries—by author last name—within each. This volume is the result of a research project whose scope also includes works of fi ction and literary creation, neither of which are included in this book. Asknowledging the international nature of the topic, all section titles are presented quadrilingually: in English, French, Swedish, and Icelandic. The extensive wealth of resources listed makes this volume a very valuable resource for all doing research related to the North. 122 Journal of the North Atlantic Volume 1 Prehistoric Britain. Joshua Pollard (Editor). 2008. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK. 367 pp. $45, softcover. ISBN 9781405125468. This book, a compilation of 15 essays by leading scholars of British prehistory, seeks to incorporate the latest archaeological fi ndings to present an overview of the development of human societies in the British Isles from the Upper Palaeolithic to the end of the Iron Age. The book begins with an introductory chapter by Pollard which grounds the reader with an overview in time and space of our current understanding of prehistoric Britain. Subsequent chapters deal with a wide variety of topics such as foodways and social ecologies, the architecture of monuments, lithic technology, mortuary practices, the agricultural countryside, the architecture of routine life, ceramic technologies, exchange, and personal and community identity. Intended to be both an introductory text to some of the current themes in British prehistoric archaeology, and as a stimulus for debate amongst those already immersed in the fi eld. Clear writing styles and ample illustrations make this book accessible to all with an interest in the human past. Highly recommended. Human Ecology of Beringia. John F. Hoffecker and Scott A. Elias. 2007. Columbia University Press, New York, NY, USA. 304 pp. $46.50, hardcover. ISBN 9780231130608. The lowered sea levels of the Ice Age exposed an immense plain between Northeast Asia and Alaska. Currently prominent theories hypothesize that the initial human colonization of the Americas occured across Beringia, as this exposed land mass is called. In this book, Hoffecker and Elias present a synthesis of what is known about the last few millenia of Beringia's existence before rising seas fl ooded it for the last time. The book begins with an introduction to Beringia and its landscapes, reviewing the status of current research and the debates regarding the changing climates, environment, and archaeology of the region. The following chapters provide a detailed account of the archaeological record from 15,000 to 11,500 years ago, tracing the evolving adaptations of early humans to the cold environments of northern Eurasia that set the stage for their settlement of Beringia. In the concluding chapter, the authors summarize what is known of the human ecology of Beringia in relation to three models of New World settlement presently under consideration. Numerous illustrations, tables, and maps help to clearly present the information. A good introduction to the topic, but one which also presents enough detailed analysis of current research to be of value to those already versed in the fi eld. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Ice Age environments and human colonization patterns. Fish into Wine. Peter E. Pope. 2004. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 496 pp. $24.95, softcover. ISBN 0807855766. In New Foundland, colonists in fi shing plantations exchanged fi sh for the luxury goods of wine and tobacco, creating a commercial web between the New England coast, the North Atlantic, and the Mediterranean. In this book, Pope excavates the life of this colony where migratory European crews had fi shed for cod since the 1500s. It is also the story of the remarkable Kirke family, who took over and continued to operate the largest fi shing establishments in New Foundland until 1696. More than a study of a small corner of early colonial Canada, this text is a fascinating and historically signifi cant work, based on original research, about British Atlantic economies and societies in the seventeenth century. The author pays special attention to archaeological evidence uncovered at Ferryland, the proprietary colony founded by Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, in 1621. Pope brings to life a colony of English settlers and their fi shery plantations, showing how these settlements became a crucial hub in an extensive multinational commercial and social network connecting with the West Country of England, Ireland, continental Europe, the Mediterranean, and New England. Integrating European and North American history, this book examines not only the maritime trade surrounding fi sheries, but also seasonal work cycles, relations among planters and their servants and migrants, economic issues and colonial connections, and the signifi cance and consumption of wine in this transatlantic economy. In this text, Pope succeeds in combining insightful archaeological analysis with historical research to provide a fascinating account. A nice collection of illustrations and maps along with numerous informative tables, a useful glossary, and thorough index add to its value. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of the North Atlantic. Nordic Landscapes: Region and Belonging on the Northern Edge of Europe. Michael Jones and Kenneth R. Olwig (Editors). 2008. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, USA. 628 pp. $35, softcover. ISBN 9780816639151. This book is a collection of 22 essays which contribute to clarifying and illuminating the meaning and interaction of landscape, place, and culture in the region along the northern edge of Europe bordered by Russia and the Baltic nations to the east and by North America to the west. Following an introductory chapter by Jones and Olwig explaining the focus and structure of the book, the subsequent essays are divided by geographic region: Denmark, The North Atlantic, Sweden, Norway, and Finland, with the fi nal two conluding essays giving an overview of the entire Norden region. This fascinating volume approaches 2008 Noteworthy Books 123 the topic with a complex interpretation of landscape as a place of a polity constituted through human law and custom, with the memory of how society and nature have interacted in the sustained generation of environments of both social and ecological value preserved in its material fabric. As such it does not signify a monolithic unity of environment and culture determined by nature and goes much deeper than a purely scenic approach. This book will be of value both to those with a specifi c interest in Nordic cultures as well as those fascinated with the relationship between humans and their environment and how each is shaped by the other. Negotiating the Past in the Past: Indentity, Memory, and Landscape in Archaeological Research. Norman Yoffee (Editor). 2008. The University of Arizona Press, Tuscon, AZ, USA. 288 pp. $39.95, softcover. ISBN 9780816526703. As we seek to understand past societies, it can be important to examine how those early societies viewed even earlier societies. Despite widespread recognition of the importance of their historical awareness in interpreting and explaining the actions of modern peoples, it has only been in recent years that archaeologists have begun exploring in detail how the past was used in the past itself. This volume of ten original essays brings critical insight to this frequently overlooked dimension of earlier societies. Drawing on the concepts of identity, memory, and landscape, the contributors show how these points of entry can lead to substantially new accounts of how people understood their lives and why things changed as they did. Chapters include the archaeologies of the eastern Mediterranean, including Mesopotamia, Iran, Greece, and Rome; prehistoric Greece; Achaemenid and Hellenistic Armenia; Athens in the Roman period; Nubia and Egypt; medieval South India; and northern Maya Quintana Roo. These essays show how and why, in each society, certain versions of the past were promoted while others were aggressively forgotten for the purpose of promoting innovation, gaining political advantage, or creating a new group identity. While the geographic focus of this book’s content is somewhat removed from the North Atlantic region, the approaches taken and the concepts and ideas presented are universal in their signifi cance and should be considered in archaeological and historical research in all corners of the globe. After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000 to 5,000 BC. Steven Mithen. 2003. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA. 622 pp. $19.95, softcover. ISBN 9780674019997. Drawing on the latest research in archaeology, human genetics, and environmental science, Mithen takes the reader on a sweeping tour of 15,000 years of human history, from the time of the peak of the last ice age through 10,000 years of climate shifts culminating in an abrupt global warming that ushered in a fundamentally changed human world. Using lively prose, the author paints a vivid picture of the world during this era as seen through the eyes of an imaginary modern traveler—John Lubbock, namesake of the great Victorian polymath and author of Prehistoric Times. With Lubbock, readers visit and observe communities and landscapes, experiencing prehistoric life—from aboriginal hunting parties in Tasmania, to the corralling of wild sheep in the central Sahara, to the efforts of the Guila Naquitz people in Oaxaca to combat drought with agricultural innovations. Part history, part science, part time travel, this book offers an evocative and uniquely compelling portrayal of diverse cultures, lives, and landscapes that laid the foundations of the modern world. Twenty-four pages of color photographs of artifacts and sites complement the text. An informative, but truly enyoyable read that will appeal to a very broad audience. Foragers of the Terminal Pleistocene in North America. Renee B. Walker and Boyce N. Driskell (Editors). 2007. University of Nebraska Press, Baltimore, NE, USA. 328 pp. $59.95, hardcover. ISBN 978080324802. This collection of essays casts new light on Paleoindians, the fi rst settlers of North America. Recent research strongly suggests that big-game hunting was but one of the subsistence strategies the fi rst humans in the New World employed and that they also relied on foraging and fi shing. Written in an accessible, engaging style, these essays examine how migratory waterfowl routes may represent one impetus for human migration into the Americas, analyze settlement and subsistence in the major regions of the United States, and reinvestigate mammoth and bison bone beds in the western Plains and the Rocky Mountains to illuminate the unique nature of Paleoindian hunting in that region. The fi rst study of Paleoindian subsistence on a continental scale, this collection posits regional models of subsistence and mobility that take into account the constraints and opportunities for resource exploitation within each region: Research on the Gault site in Texas reveals new subsistence strategies there, while data from the Shawnee-Minisink site in Pennsylvania connects seed collecting with fi shing in that region, and plant remains from Dust Cave in Alabama provide important information about subsistence. With research ranging from fauna and lithic data from Paleoindian campsites in Florida that illuminate subsistence technologies and late megamammals to an analysis of plant remains from the eastern United States that results in a revised scheme of environmental changes, this volume serves as an important sourcebook and guide to the latest research 124 Journal of the North Atlantic Volume 1 on the fi rst humans in North America. Numerous photographs of artifacts, illustrations, maps, and tables enhance the information presented. An extensive bibliography is provided to assist those seeking to do further research. Recommended reading for those interested in the human colonization of the Americas. The World Map 1300–1492: The Persistence of Tradition and Transformation. Evelyn Edson. 2007. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, USA. 312 pp. $50, hardcover. ISBN 9780801885891. In the two centuries before Columbus, mapmaking was transformed. This book investigates this important, transitional period of mapmaking. Beginning with a 1436 atlas of ten maps produced by Venetian Andrea Bianco, Edson uses maps of the fourteenth and fi fteenth centuries to examine how the discoveries of missionaries and merchants affected the content and confi guration of world maps. She fi nds that both the makers and users of maps struggled with changes brought about by technological innovation—the compass, quadrant, and astrolabe—rediscovery of classical mapmaking approaches, and increased travel. To reconcile the tensions between the conservative and progressive worldviews, mapmakers used a careful blend of the old and the new to depict a world that was changing— and growing—before their eyes. With solid research and clear prose, this engaging and informative study reveals how the ingenuity, creativity, and adaptability of these craftsmen helped pave the way for an age of discovery. Numerous illustrations of the maps discussed in the text help bring the subject alive, giving the reader a clear picture of the changing late medieval world view. Defi nitely recommended for all who use maps in their research, as well as for those with a particular interest in medieval history or those who have a fascination with cartography. Writing the Map of Anglo-Saxon England: Essays in Cultural Geography. Nicholas Howe. 2008. Yale University Press, Baltimore, MD, USA. 278 pp. $45, hardcover. ISBN 9780300119336. Eminent Anglo- Saxonist Nicholas Howe explores how the English, in the centuries before the Norman Conquest, located themselves both literally and imaginatively in the world. His elegantly written study focuses on Anglo- Saxon representations of place as revealed in a wide variety of texts in Latin and Old English, as well as in diagrams of holy sites and a single map of the known world found in British Library, Cotton Tiberius B v. The scholar’s investigations are supplemented and aided by insights gleaned from his many trips to physical sites. The Anglo-Saxons possessed a remarkable body of geographical knowledge in written rather than cartographic form, Howe demonstrates. To understand fully their cultural geography, he considers Anglo-Saxon writings about the places they actually inhabited and those they imagined. He fi nds in Anglo-Saxon geographic images a persistent sense of being far from the center of the world, and he discusses how these migratory peoples narrowed that distance and developed ways to defi ne themselves. This text is sure to be of interest to Anglo-Saxon scholars as well as those studying the interaction between land and culture or those with a keen curiousity about the history of our literary heritage. Paleoindian Archaeology: A Hemispheric Perspective. Julie E. Morrow and Cristóbal Gnecco (Editors). 2006. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, FL, USA. 288 pp. $65, hardcover; $32.95, softcover. ISBN 9780813030142. Since the 1997 report of investigations into the Monte Verde site in Chile, there has been a surge of interest in early habitation sites and a polarization of opinion about the antiquity of humans in the Americas. While Clovis remains the earliest undisputed cultural complex in the New World and one of the fastest and most successful diasporas in human history, many scholars argue that this culture did not enter an empty landscape. This volume samples sites from Alaska to the southern cone of South America to provide a better understanding of the processes by which the early settlement of the Americas occurred at the end of the late Wisconsonian Ice Age. With broad geographical and topical breadth, this book provides theoretical perspectives on early migrations, interpretations of single sites, and comparative studies of material culture. Included are a synthesis on radiocarbon dating, a critique of Paleoindian studies, a reconstruction of the Clovis drought based on geomorphological and paleo-environmental data, several site specifi c studies (one on the only known Clovis burial in the New World), discussions on fl uted points from South America, and three studies comparing North and South American evidence (grassland adaptations, stone technologies, and Paleoindian artifacts). The editors have divided the essays into three sections: Continental Issues and Comparisons, Perspectives from the South, and Perspectives from the North. Over 70 fi gures and 10 tables add to the contributors’ presentation of their analysis on the early human settlement of the Americas. An extensive references section provides abundant sources for further exploration of the topic. Mummies in a New Millenium: Proceedings of the 4th Congress on Mummy Studies in Nuuk, Greenland. Niels Lynnerup, Claus Andreasen, and Joel Berglund (Editors). 2003. Danish Polar Center (in collaboration with the Greenland National Museum and Archives), Copenhagen, Denmark. 208 pp. DKK 250, softcover. ISBN 8790369572. While most people may think of Egypt when the word “mummy” 2008 Noteworthy Books 125 is mentioned, preserved human remains beyond bones alone add greatly to the archaeological record of the North as well. While the dead of the northern cultures were not traditionally treated in any way to intentionally ensure mummifi cation or any kind of everlasting presence on earth, the presence of bogs, extensive ice fi elds, and a cold, dry environment conducive to a natural freeze-drying process in northern regions have resulted in the preservation of signifi cant remains there. The more than 50 papers presented in these proceedings touch upon all aspects of mummifi cation and the study of preserved remains in the North. Greenland and arctic mummies, mummifi cation methods, bog bodies, hair in archaeology, conservation and museology, paleopathology, applied technology and analytical methods, mortuary archaeology, and the mummies from Mount Llullaillaco are the major sections into which the contributions have been organized. Numerous tables, fi gures, and photographs supplement the research presented and help to bring this fascinating aspect of northern archaeology to life. Angels on the Edge of the World: Geography, Literature, and English Community, 1000–1534. Kathy Lavezzo. 2006. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, USA. 208 pp. $29.95, softcover. ISBN 9780801473098. In a view that sweeps from the tenth century to the mid-sixteenth century, Kathy Lavezzo shows how the English people’s concern with their island’s relative isolation on the global map contributed to the emergence of a distinctive English national consciousness in which marginality came to be seen as a virtue. Lavezzo examines the many world maps and textual geographies produced by the English during these years. In a beautifully illustrated book, she argues that the English looked to the globe only to emphasize and, in time, to exalt their own exceptional geographic status. The author charts this process by examining a series of wondrous maps and canonical texts. Demonstrating how medieval geographic notions conditioned English attitudes toward Rome, clarifying the complicated religious history leading up to Henry the Eighth’s divorce and the Reformation, this book straddles the subjects—and methods—of literature, history, and cultural geography. It will be of special interest to those readers who use cartography as a way to map cultural identities, but should also appeal to all interested in medieval English history. The Journal of the North Atlantic welcomes submissions of review copies of books that publishers or authors would like to recommend to the journal’s readership and are relevant to the journal’s mission of publishing information about the peo ples of the North Atlantic, their ex pan sion into the region over time, and their in ter ac tions with their chang ing environments. Accompanying short, descriptive summaries of the text are also welcome.