Harris - CHAPTER 5: Production
• Energy-capturing technology- refers to how people apply human labour and technology to
• Features of the Environment- consist of sunlight, rainfall, soil quality, forests and mineral
• Fossil fuels- consist of materials such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas derived from
decomposed remains of prehistoric organisms over a period of hundreds of millions of years.
• Ecological Anthropology- is concerned with cultural and biological responses that affect or
are affected by the survival, reproduction, and health and spatial distribution of human
• Carrying Capacity- is the upper limit on production and population in a given environment
under a given technology, without degrading the resource base.
• Point of Diminishing Returns- is the point at which the amount of food produced per unit of
effort begins to fall.
• Intensification- refers to an increase in labour output (using more people, working longer
hours, or working faster) to produce greater yields without expanding the amount of land used.
• Liebig's law of the minimum- a pop. will be limited by critical resources that are in the
• Maximum sustainable yield- defined as the level of production immediately prior to the point
of diminishing returns.
• Optimal foraging theory- predicts that hunters or collectors will pursue or harvest only
those species that give them the max energy return for the time spent foraging
• Slash-and-burn farming- requires large stretches of fallow land because long periods are
necessary for the soil to be replenished
• Pastorialists- peoples who raise domesticated animals and who do not depend on hunting,
gathering, or planting their own crops for a significant portion of their diets. Typically occupy
arid grasslands and steppes where precipitation is too sparse or irregular to support rainfall
agriculture and where water for irrigation is not available.
• Transhumance- form of pastoralism organized around the seasonal migration of livestock
between mountain pastures in warm seasons and lower altitudes the rest of the year
• Nomadic pastoralism- is often associated with migrations that follow established routes over
• early hominids gained all energy from food, first great step in evolution of production was the
use of fire
40,000 years ago fire was being used for cooking, warmth, protection against carnivores, driving game
over cliffs/into ambushes, and possibly favouring growth of plant species.
• 10,000 years ago (approx), animals provided energy in the form of muscle power, first
harnessed to sleds, then to plows.
• Roughly same time humans used high temp. charcoal fires.
• Fossil fuels= within last 200/300 years
supply nearly 90% of all the energy consumed by industrially developed nations.
• Throughout history technological advances have steadily increased the average amount of
energy available per person.
• As a pop. Grows, it increases its need for production. To produces more food, a society must
increase per capita use of energy.
• Increased energy use ≠ higher standard of living, nor energy is produced/used more efficiently.
Less advanced cultures may be better adapted to their environments than high-energy cultures
• Groups and individuals adapt to their environment by making adjustments for survival.
Therefore it is expected to see individual acts and beliefs to respond in a broad range of characteristics, such as:
Fluctuations over time in availability of resources
Activities of other groups in competition for these resources
introduction of new tech. that changes the way food is produced.
• Ecological anthropology sees the human pop. as integral part of ecosystem and focuses on
human adaptation, incl. physiological, cultural and behavioural relationships.
• Ecosystems tend towards homeostasis- they tend to resist change and remain in equilibrium.
• Some predictable patterns do take place such as:
-climatic: drought, flooding, causes migration or internal conflict
-technological: replacing old tech. with new more effective tools, or by diffusion of food
-social organization: features new patterns of domestic organization or political
• For humans, carrying capacity is relative to infrastructural and sociocultural conditions- if the
conditions change ( as a result of deforestation, or new tech.) carrying capacity changes as
• Although carrying capacity sets the upper limit to production and reproduction, most societies
maintain their production and reproduction below that limit.
• Slash-and-burn farmers bring on diminishing returns as they increase the number of years they
consecutively plant in the same garden
Have to work harder to produce same amount of food to maintain the same-size population. Most food
production systems maintain below carrying capacity because diminishing returns set in before
carrying capacity is reached and no one wants to work more for less.
• Unless population growth is maintained as well, the temptation to maintain or increase
production will be great- can be done by intensification (increasing the time and energy
devoted to production)
• intensification, a mode of production can be pushed far beyond point on diminishing returns to
or beyond carrying capacity, irreversibly damaging the resource base.
• It is inevitable that intensification will lead to the depletion of non renewable resources.
- Example, Ocean fisheries; rate of return per unit of fishing effort has declined by almost
• To avoid depletions the maximum sustainable yield must be found.
• The basic principle of ecological analysis states that communities of organisms adapt to the
minimum life sustainable conditions of their habitats rather than average – Liebig's law of the
• Meaning growth is limited by the availability of any one necessary resource.
• In the past environmental depletions have sometimes stimulated the adoptions of new modes
- Example, When hunters and gathers deplete their animals and plants they begin to adopt a
mode of production based on the domestication of animals and plants
• the shift from preindustrial to industrial and petrochemical forms of agriculture can also be seen
as a response of depletions.
- Example, Aquaculture is the raising of fish in nets and ponds to compensate for the
Hunting and Horticulture Pastoralism Agriculture Agriculture Industrial
Gathering with Plow with Irrigation Agriculture
Example !Kung Matsigenka Turkana Northern China United
Environment Desert with Tropical Arid Arid region Fertile plain Fertile land
sparce forest; grasslands with irregular with with resources, gardens unsuitable monsoon perpetual intensified
including relocated for rains growing mechanized
water every 3 to 5 agriculture season production
years and water
Settlement Migratory Semi- Highly Sedentary Large Rural regions
and live in sedentary mobile in villages with villages with exclusively
temporary hamlets search of permanent access to devoted to
camps food for gardens river farming
Population Low Low Low Increased High Only 3% of
population population population population population workforce
density density density density density are farmers
Production Adequate Cultivation of Nomadic Intensive Intensive rice Mechanized
wild root crops herding with rainfall cultivation; equipment
vegetable supplemente trade cultivation of double powered by
food and d by hunting agriculturalist grains; cropping; fossil fuel;
meat for fishing, and s livestock domesticated used fertilizer
small wild foods provides animals; and
population traction and communal pesticide;
milk water indirect
and ditches exceeds
Land Use Communal Communal of Grazing land Half farmland Land owned Private and
territory and land claimed owner of owned by by corporate
water holes; through corporate kin wealthy households ownership of
access individual group with farmers who with some land; used
willingly use exchange hire other tenant for profit
granted networks farmers to farmers
throughout work land
• Hunting and gathering was the