Week 5 Lecture

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9 Jun 2011
Adaptive strategy
Termed by Cohen in 1960s
Looks at how humans survive in their environments
Also known as a subsistence strategy
Adapt = to fit in; subsist = to live/stay/stand
How do people make a living and stand in society?
1. Hunting gathering / foraging
2. Horticulture
3. Intensive Agriculture
4. Pastoralism
5. Industrial food production
Economic systems
1. Production
2. Distribution
3. Exchange
4. (Consumption)
1. Foraging / Hunting gathering
Based on a strategy of hunting food from the wild
1. Food foraging a complex adaptation
Very complex adaptation which involves sophisticated knowledge and tools
Was dominant mode of human subsistence
All societies everywhere were hunter and gatherers, our biological make up evolved from that
condition/adaptive strategy
Has been the most successful human adaptive strategy in terms of how long it has been
For many groups, males tend to be the hunters (was cross cultural rule), women specialize in
People have developed a type of diet that draw from many levels, a diverse diet
Studies show that hunters/gatherers have a life expectancy that is comparable to people in
industrialized and modern societies, tend to be quite healthy people
2. Mostly nomadic lifestyle
oMost hunters and gatherers forage an area until the resources become depleted, then move
to another
oSome foragers were not nomadic
oIts usually groups who were able to find a food resource that was reliable all year round,
those groups were able to settle down and maintain a nomadic lifestyle
3. Low population densities
4. Families, bands
oAre primary social organization
oBands = groups of relatives/related families who tend to hunt and gather together
oHave flexible organization, people are free to come enroll
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5. Animism & shamanism = religion
oAnimism = believe in wide range of nature spirits
Ju/hoansi (Botswana of Southern Africa)
The breakdown there is most meat is hunted and gathered
Even though meat provides small portion, meat is a high status food
Hunting in the wild can be dangerous
How do they maintain these low population densities/growth?
oCritical fat theory/hypothesis = women of childbearing age, in order to ovulate and
reproduce, women had to have a certain percentage of body fat in terms of their overall
body composition
oBeing mobile and nomadic has a role on keeping the population low and in check
Babenzele Pygmies (Central African Republic)
They use a variety of poisons, hunt for a numerous species of animals (birds, reptiles, monkeys)
This knowledge is sophisticated knowledge, is passed down through generations and built up
through triads
Their mode of subsistencecan either go alone (solo hunters), but sometimes they can go in
larger groups (e.g. hunting for whale with requires cooperative effort)
Andaman Islands (India)
In the middle of the Indian ocean, a territory of the Indians
A small group of people who were like semi-nomadic because they lived in a ecosystem that was
really rich in aquatic animals (i.e. fish)
The nature of the resources often dictated how they do their business
Haida (Queen Charlotte Islands, B.C., Canada)
Aboriginal group in Canada who caught fish and whale
Because of the very rich environment that they lived in, they settled there and have a much denser
population than other foragers
2. Horticulture
After foraging, the next adaptive strategy was horticulture
Neolithic = advent of farming, especially in horticulture
1. Gardening [swidden, slash & burn, shifting cultivation]
Two types: tropical rainforest gardening and dry land gardening
In dry land gardening, which was practiced in prehistoric Europes and Southwestern
United States, example is Hopi (see below)
A more common form of horticulture is tropical rainforest
Horticulture is a mixed economy, can be combined with domestication or hunting, or both
Horticulture is characterized by a certain type of crop: yams, sweet potato, taro, cassava
these are predominantly root crops grown from the ground
They dont use seeds, will use chunks of potato
They are not storable
Root crops rot very quickly, cannot be stored for a long time, cannot be accumulated
2. Crops [vegetative propagation]
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