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Lecture Environment .docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Victor Barac

ANT369H1 March 10, 2014 Environment Ecological anthropology 1. Biological • Primate ecology • Human adaptability • Behavioral ecology -Very sophisticated and detailed and terminology system (indigenous do not classify similar to us - Ethno ecology is widely used 2. Archaeology • Paleoecology 3. Linguistics • Ethnoecology 4.Cultural • Cultural ecology • Human ecosystems Cultural Ecology Julian Steward ‐Theory of Culture Change (1955) - American Anthropologist , rebellious against Boazian tradition, evolution theories should be brought back into anthropology - Difficult to grasp bc his work is scattered, started synthesizing his work - Study of human interaction in cultures w/in their environment • ANT369H1 March 10, 2014 • Environment -Concept of adaptation (changing or making adjustments to react or respond quickly to environmental change) -different from biological changing (takes a lot of time) -cultural adaptation happens immediately, natural selection.; adapt or die -local changes could lead to different evolutionary paths , no preordained path that societies had to follow, it was open to history (no utopia, dystopia etc) -have to look at the nature of the environment - did his research with Shoshone ppl had a simple social structure small bands, minimal societies operating in marginal environments • Population -demographics (age structure of a population) • Technology - what are they using, indigenous or external instruments • Social organization of production -band, family or village? • Territoriality / Warfare -Land defended or shared? Is it owned by the group or by the community? We assume that land can be purchased , this idea of land being purchased is very difficult for us to understand • Stratification -social inequality/? • Sanctity -Beliefs about the environment ANT369H1 March 10, 2014 -some have animalistic beliefs about the world , world exists with animals in it -what extent does religion affect the natural role and how ppl act? 2 streams came from Julian about anthropology 1. Human ecosystems Roy Rappaport • Pigs for the Ancestors (1968) book about Tsemba Maring (PNG) -focuses on explaining a type of ritual that is performed every year, pre-war ritual, before they go to war they have a pig feast - Role of pigs and politics, borrowing of biological concepts Concepts adopted from biological ecology • Population -was borrowed from biology , number of ppl in the population • Adaptation • Carrying capacity • Law of diminishing returns -how long will ppl keep on doing an economic condition, takes more work to have survival , ppl make calculations ( on the returns) • Leibig’s law of the minimum -ppls activities are determined by the most minimal resource in an environment, eg water if ppl are dependent on water, in an area with low water then ppl wont be there • Regulation regulates pig and human population with this festival ( Kaiko, internecine ) - more than a political reason, but also an environmental reason -conducting human warfare to get protein, aristocracy would get the choice pieces of the body , the environment of Mesoamerica was protein limited Cultural materialism -Stemmed from the idea of infrastructure determinism ANT369H1 March 10, 2014 -Argues that the infrastructure that is determining, b/c culture is integrated, culture economics and family structure are somehow integrated and if they are harmonized then they will discord social strife To Harris, cultural materialism "is based on the simple p[4]ise that human social life is a response to the practical problems of earthly existence".  Therefore, cultural materialists believe that technological and economic aspects play the primary role in shaping  a society. Cultural materialism aims to understand the effects of technological, economic and demographic  factors on molding societal structure and superstructure through strictly scientific methods.  Marvin Harris (1927‐2002) • The Rise of Anthropological Theory 1968 • Cultural materialism 1979 • An explicit research strategy • Based on theoretical principle of infrastructural determinism • Investigation of ecological rationale of apparently irrational beliefs Harris – The Cultural Ecology of India’s Sacred Cattle (1966) 1.The rationality of seemingly irrational practices 2. Cultural Ecology - became popular with this, eg when you see films of india see a whole street of cattle , ppl asked y they don’t just slaughter the cattle to eat, the answer was bc of religious reasons - Harris came up with a rationale, hindu taboo of eating meat ; Cattle could be used for transportation, dung used for fertilizer , cattle aren’t fed and feed off of stubble and secondary sediments stuff that are not edible by humans, provide a sense of protein to the untouchables have no dietary restrictions, run cattle industry • Habitat: Northern rural India • Population: Post‐colonial, rapid growth • Technology: plough agriculture ANT369H1 March 10, 2014 3. Explanation: adaptation vs. religious belief The Cultural Ecology of Potlatch • NW Coast – resources fluctuate annually and locally • Potlatch a cultural adaptation to alternating periods of local abundance and shortage - Displayed their wealth by giving large amount of food and gifts ( potlatch), Canadians outlawed the potlatch bc they destroyed natural property - having an environmental impact, it was adapted bc there was a lot of resource fluctuation, regional variation of resources, potlatch was a way of redistributing scarce sources, if you had all the extra fish, connected to other villages, they are deeply related, esteemed with the prestige you get, gift giving produces hormonal reactions between groups • Potlatching linked villages together into a regional economy • Potlatch was an exchange system that re‐distributed food and wealth villages • Potlatch sponsors and their villages rewarded with prestige The Universal Pattern 1. Infrastructure 1. Mode of reproduction - mating 2. Mode of production – how they make a living of the family 2. Structure 1. Domestic economy - family forms 2. Political economy
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