Chapter 2: TheMeaning of Progress and Development
What Do We Talk About When WeTalkAbout 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 TheIdeaOf Progress Help Us Understand TheShift FromForaging To Sedentary Agriculture?
Reasons of shift: Human inventions resulted in a better way of doing things progressed?
Evolutionary Explanations for CultureChange: 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 (19 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 (20 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.
LifeAmong Foragers: TheHadza 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 John H. Bodley – compared sweet potatoes production in New Guinea with US. In New Guinea they
used slash-and-burn agricultural techniques large part of their diets used 10% of land with
no danger of resource decline 12.4 million cal./hectare. In US 29.6 million cal./hectare used
human energy + large amount of non-human energy used damage to environment. US
produced more potatoes but the energy cost per cal. were lower than New Guinea. Also, US has
high preparation and distribution costs, where New Guinea production = consumption.
Question 2.2: How canwe explain thevast inequality betweenthe rich and thepoor?
If it isn’t progress, then why do those in the industrial world have a higher standard of living?
Industrial Revolution – A period of European history generally identified as occurring the late 18 th
century, marked by a shift in the production from agriculture to industrial goods, urbanization,
and the factory system. th th
o Before China was the richest in 16 , 17 centuries for gold and silver paid for by Spanish
and Portuguese miners for Chinese goods, then India cotton textiles, Europe, West Africa
with Islamic traders, England rural agriculture society with raw wool and inexpensive
BUT traders and merchants wanted better control of these goods cheap labor
“putting out” system – a means of production, common in the 16 and 17 th
centuries and surviving today, in which a manufacturer or merchant supplied
the materials and sometimes the tools to workers, who produce the foods in
their own homes.
“putting out” system replaced in 18 century England by factory system – a
system of production characterized by the concentration of labor and
machines in specific places. It is associated with the Industrial Revolution.
Trade profits greater than manufacture that needed demand for products
and control of workers BUT manufacture had cheap labor & child labor and
no laws stopping them city life, more technological advancements,
employment England became the wealthiest country in the world
market was for Europe and growing market in America but there was
competition for market and resources in which those with military
The Britishin India
Mughal India 17t century was an empire created by the Turks from Turkestan, who made their
chief, Babur, the first Mughal emperor in 1527. 1
690 British East India Company were granted a monopoly in East Asian trade by the British
government in India they established a trading center “John Company” in Bengal, in Calcutta
expanded after defeating rulers of Bengal in 1750s and gained control of 10,000 weavers,
increased taxes led to famines gained control of much of India.
Before Britain, India produced cheap and better quality cloth than English textiles British
government prohibits the company from importing it and English factories produced copies of it
destroyed Indian textile industry BUT cotton was imported to China BUT they couldn’t
produce enough tea for them, and even though Opium was illegal in China was still importing it
China fought with British but British military won because China shouldn’t impose it’s laws on
others and they were granted trade rights, resulting in:
o 1. Reversed the flow of money between China and the world
o 2. 1/10 Chinese people were addicted to Opium
o 3. Textile exports from England to India and China increased
Cotton, Slavery, and The Trail of Tears Slavery existed long before, but slavery increased between 15 and 19 century because cotton
produced in Egypt and US where labor was intensive & profitable through slavery, produced
longer fiber than India.
The southern states of US and Europe got 275,000 slaves from Africa for cotton plantations.
Increase in capture & slave industrial revolution Eli Whitney’s cotton gin that efficiently
separates the seeds from the raw cotton fiber growth in American cotton industry + European
1790-1860 835,000 slaves forced to migrate from Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas to
Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
1830s 125,000 Native Americans forced migration from their homes in Georgia, Alabama, and
Mississippi to the Oklahoma Territory, along a route known as The Trail of Tears. Cherokee
were an advanced Native group; they were horticulturists, living in large autonomous villages and