Anthro2 Lecture #8 and #9 Notes: Subsistence Strategies and Economic Structure

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Jeffrey Hoelle

Broad Patterns • We’ve been looking at the ways that we’re similar and using an anthropological perspective to understand the reasons behind our beliefs and practices • Now what do we do when confronted with something totally foreign and different? ◦ We will learn the broad-level processes that structure economy, political organization, gender roles, and other features that at first glance may seem chaotic • We will speak in terms of typologies ?? OBM and Our Culture • What are the similarities? ◦ Dressing up to distinguish self ◦ Frustration at mobilizing communal labor ◦ Grief over death ◦ Could get by but want more ◦ Betrayal and intrigue/gossip • How can we understand the differences? ◦ Language ◦ Gender Roles ◦ Importance of pigs ◦ Violence Subsistence Strategies • Subsistence: transforming the material resources of the environment into food, clothing, and shelter • A particular mode may be dominant, but other modes may coexist • Subsistence strategies may develop as adaptations to seasonal variation in the environment and other environmental variations such as drought, flood, or animal diseases • Exerts a HUGE influence on key features of a society and culture. It structures societies in specific ways so that there are similarities among groups with no previous contact on the other side of the world. Types of Subsistence Strategies: from foraging to industrialism, complexity increases; but this isn’t the same as an “evolution” or necessary improvement. In many ways, our “developed” society has much to learn from “primitive” groups like BBQ-eria • Foraging (ex: Lee “The Hunters”, IV forager) ◦ The hunters foraging in the Kalahari Desert: ▪ In what ways does the environment constrain their lives? ▪ People can’t freeload, they have to search for food. It also limits population. ▪ Gender roles? ▪ Typically, women are foragers ◦ Until about 10,000 years ago, humans lived by foraging. For 99% of the time that humans have existed, they have been foragers. We rely on food naturally available in the environment. In harsh environments, we adapt to seasonal variation (ex: Arctic: hunting large animals; Kalahari desert: mostly gathered foods) ◦ Foraging relies on mobility, and it limits population growth and complexity of social organization. It is very sustainable and egalitarian society (everyone shares everything; you can’t be a freeloader) • Horticulture (The Kawelka in OBM): the production of plans using non-mechanized technology. ◦ Typically a tropical forest adaptation that requires cutting and burning the jungle to clear fields ◦ Also called swidden agriculture, or “slash and burn”. This means you clear fields by felling trees and burning the brush ◦ Apete: tropical forest patches ▪ These spaces were used as an integrated system of plant and animal communities with high biodiversity ▪ 85% of plants collected in apete were actually planted by Indians (NOT just found there) ▪ This brings up the idea between nature and culture: ▪ They reconfigured the forest with useful plants as a “forest garden” that contained food, medicine, useful materials, plants that attract game, and trail stops • Pastoralism: caring for domesticated animals which produce meat, milk, and blood. This is found in places with very different seasons and scarcity of human food (but not animal food) ◦ Animals convert edible grasses to human food. ◦ Transhumant: herders follow the herd, but others stray ◦ Nomadic: entire community follows the herd • Agriculture (Diamond, “The Worst Mistake”):the production of plants using plows, animals, and soil and water control ◦ This is more permanent and productive than other subsistence strategies (and there is much less moving around) ◦ Agricultural cultures are associated with sedentary villages, occupational diversity, and social stratification ◦ Development from foraging to agriculture: humanity’s greatest invention or the worst mistake? ▪ From small, mobile hunter-gatherer to larger agricultural societies in permanent settlements ▪ Control of food steady food supply leads to surplus and population growth ▪ Specialization-not all people need to work in food production, technological advancement ▪ As populations grow, there’s a need for expansion (of land, resources, and labor) ▪ Agriclutural societies ended up taking over hun
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