ANTA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Mughal Empire, Cotton Gin, Lewis H. Morgan
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Chapter 2: The Meaning of Progress and Development
What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Progress?
10,000 years ago humans were sedentary –a mode of livelihood characterized by permanent or
Progress – the idea the human history is the story of a steady advance from a life dependent on the
whims of nature to a life of control and domination over natural forces.
Question 2.1: How And Why Did Foraging Societies Switch To Sedentary Agriculture?
Cultural change – the changes in meanings that a people ascribe to experience and changes in their
way of life.
Till 10000 years ago, humans were in bands – a term used by anthropologists to refer to
egalitarian units of social organization found mostly among foragers, that usually consist of fewer
than 100 people
o Moved frequently for food, and because of their small groups there were little differences
economically and socially (age & gender). There were no leaders but special people had
spiritual powers for healing. SIMPLE LIFE.
Eventually people became sedentary, living in permanent settlements of up to 2000 people where
they grew crops and domesticated animals. Leaders were necessary and occupational roles
developed ranking in importance
o Slash-and-burn (or swidden) agriculture – a mode of livelihood in which forests are cleared
by burning trees and brush, and crops are planted among the ashes of the cleared ground.
o Clans – a unilineal descent group whose members descent from a common ancestor
o In order to defend themselves they formed States – a form of society characterized by a
hierarchical ranking of people and centralized political control
o Slash and burn replaced by irrigation agriculture – a form of cultivation in which water is
used to deliver nutrients to growing plants.
Eventually leaders organize labor to construct public works (highways, the great wall of China,
pyramids), hereditary leaders emerged, and settlements grew into cities, competitions between
groups for available resources lead to armies.
Technological developments led to specific skills requirement, increased trade, evolution of the
merchant class and development into large-scale industrializes state.
Does The Idea Of Progress Help Us Understand The Shift From Foraging To Sedentary Agriculture?
Reasons of shift: Human inventions resulted in a better way of doing things progressed?
Evolutionary Explanations for Culture Change: Lewis Henry Morgan and Leslie White
Reason for sedentary it was easier, less dangerous and more productive
Idea that change occurs because of a desire to progress is in Western societies.
Morgan (19th century) – studied Iroquois in NY. Theory of human development in which human
societies evolves in 3 stages: savagery, barbarism, and civilization. Some still in savagery and
barbarism. Transition required some major technological invention. Eg. fire, bow and arrow in
savagery to barbarism.
White (20th century) – humans sought to harness energy though technology and to transform that
energy into things they required for survival such as food, clothing and shelter. Amount of goods
produced by energy = efficiency of technology available. Energy was limited till technological
advances which gave humans control of energy. Eventually a few people could care for large
groups allowing others to take up other professions.
What Are The Shortcomings Of These Theories Of Progress?
White ideas were influential because today people see technology as a measure of progress and
the more we harness energy the more social, economic and political problems we solve.
Marshall Sahlins – foragers were “the original affluent society” with minimal work and plenty of
o 1. Females, as gatherers produced more food than the men who were hunters.
o 2. They never went hungry; they didn’t have to work hard to get food.
Life Among Foragers: The Hadza and Ju/’hoansi
James Woodburn – studied the Hazda in the 1960s, they were a small group of nomadic foragers in
Tanzania. Many thought because they lived in the dessert, food was scarce, BUT they were rich in
food resources because of wild game using bow and poisoned arrows (men) and plant foods
(women). They considered meat the only food, and was “hungry” when there wasn’t meat, even
though there was so much plant food they didn’t attempt to preserve it. They were healthy.
Lorna Marshall and Richard Lee – Ju/’hoansi people of Namibia’s Kalahari Desert are a foraging
society. They lived around water holes and would go far to find plant and animal food 2 hours a
day. Plant food = 60-90% of their food, and women gathered most of it twice as much food as
men. They never ran out of food. Their major food source being the mongongo nuts = 50% of their
calorie intake, however there are more than 80 edible plant species most of which they didn’t use.
Occasionally they would get animal meat. They are healthy, except no carbs.
Ethnocentric? we believe that our technological society is the highest development
The Transition to Agriculture
Perspective that the shift is less development and more unnecessary evil.
o Influence of population growth and population density – the number of people in a given
Mark Cohen –
o Population growth & density meant more food expanding distance travelled for food &
groups started bumping into one another they cultivated their own crops which they
knew how to do but didn’t consider it until travelling for food became difficult easier
In slash-and-burn agriculture in small groups, it is highly efficient and productive 5 million
o BUT requires 20-30 years to allow the brush and trees to grow back to be used again and if
cultivates more frequently for population growth, less yield per acre.
o Population and amount of land available must remain constant.
Farmland becomes scarce because of population growth, environmental change and the
encroachment of other groups. new agricultural techniques more work
No more swidden agriculture because there is not enough land to support the population
Robert L. Carneiro – consequences of population density for cultural change:
o Increase in number of people relative to land 2 problems:
Conflict may arise between people for resources
If they decide to intensity growing methods, they need greater societal organization
Shift WASN’T a choice, it was because of population growth and density NOT progress?
o Some say no to progress because it’s more work, others yes because it’s done more
efficiently, but non-humans have to put more effort than humans needed to.
Industrial Agriculture: Producing Potato Calories
Chapter 2: the meaning of progress and development. 10,000 years ago humans were sedentary a mode of livelihood characterized by permanent or semi-permanent settlements. Progress the idea the human history is the story of a steady advance from a life dependent on the whims of nature to a life of control and domination over natural forces. Cultural change the changes in meanings that a people ascribe to experience and changes in their way of life. There were no leaders but special people had spiritual powers for healing. Eventually people became sedentary, living in permanent settlements of up to 2000 people where they grew crops and domesticated animals. Eventually leaders organize labor to construct public works (highways, the great wall of china, pyramids), hereditary leaders emerged, and settlements grew into cities, competitions between groups for available resources lead to armies. Technological developments led to specific skills requirement, increased trade, evolution of the merchant class and development into large-scale industrializes state.