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Week 2. Concepts and Approaches in Ecological Anthropology and The New Ecological Anthropology. Genesis. The persistence of worldview or cosmology The source of a particular way of being in the world Worldviews are variable between peoples. Genesis as an ecological text.

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week 2

Week 2

Concepts and Approaches in Ecological Anthropology and The New Ecological Anthropology

genesis
Genesis
  • The persistence of worldview or cosmology
  • The source of a particular way of being in the world
  • Worldviews are variable between peoples

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

genesis as an ecological text
Genesis as an ecological text
  • Animals and humans are different entities from the beginning
  • Humans have dominion over animals and nature
  • There are different kinds of animals and different kinds of people
  • Transformation of nature is fundamental
  • Tension between a settled place of home and expansion to new places

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

slide4
Ownership over land and animals is given
  • Class and gendered roles are given
  • Transformation of nature through labour (culture) is the key
  • Fecundity is celebrated and a precursor to expansion
  • Suffering and offering/creation and destruction are joined in Western cosmology
  • Where does Carson’s Silent Spring fit in this?
  • Archetype

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

saht d bear river
Sahtú Dé (Bear River)

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

bear rock
Bear Rock

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

norman wells nt
Norman Wells, NT

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

bates chapter 1
Bates - Chapter 1

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

anthropology and the foundations of western worldview
Anthropology and the foundations of western worldview

Society Culture

Baun

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

the evolutionary view darwin and cultural evolution
The evolutionary view - Darwin and Cultural Evolution
  • As a species humans have evolved from a pre-human ancestor. Mechanism is well established in the theory of Natural Selection which operates on genes.
  • A conundrum: Societies and culture also seems to have evolved but there is no specific genetic mechanism associated with cultural evolution.

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

is the change in culture analogous to that demonstrable in genes
Is the change in culture analogous to that demonstrable in genes?
  • A good metaphor is a powerful thing
  • Life is a “river out of Eden” (Dawkins)
  • Change is embedded in the human experience but so is stability
  • Is culture “cumulative” and adaptive like genetic change?

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

what do we mean by culture
What do we mean by culture?
  • Material evidence of past human occupation
  • Ideas we hold about the world
  • Ways of behaving
  • A collective set of values & beliefs
  • The basis for experience
  • The illusion of naturalness

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

anthropological approach to the study of culture
Anthropological approach to the study of culture:
  • Holism
  • Relativism
  • Method
  • Distribution?

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

holism
Holism
  • “no complex entity is merely the sum of its parts” (p.4)
  • To understand human life holistically is to understand the relationships between the parts, the parts themselves, and the sum of the parts.

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

relativism ethnocentrism
Relativism/Ethnocentrism
  • Other people’s worlds are informed by a cultural rationality
  • The anthropologist attempts to understand from within the local system of meaning
  • Objectivity, empathy and informed judgment
  • In a relativist perspective absolutes are rare and debatable
  • Questions of scale: Emic and Etic views

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

methods participant observation
Methods - Participant Observation
  • from within
  • on its own terms
  • through participating in it
  • over a long period of time
  • in the local language
  • through local logic
  • often with the help of “Key Informants”

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

slide17
Data?
  • Direct experience through active engagement
  • Observational field notes
  • Different kinds of Interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Life histories
  • Kinship data
  • Harvest data/energy flows/food production,preparation, consumption
  • Texts
  • Historical sources

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

cultural construction giving meaning to the world
Cultural construction: Giving meaning to the world
  • The meanings people share are achieved through processes: They are constructions.
  • Gender is a construct that varies between peoples and over time, so is childhood, nature, and just about everything else. Through anthropological methods we can witness the process of meaning making or social/cultural construction. (See Bates on gender & box 1.1)
  • Construction and effect are cyclical

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

memory and transmission
Memory and Transmission
  • Culture resides in our minds, our behaviours, our texts, our language.
  • It ultimately concerns the meanings we attribute to the world and the distribution of those meanings over time.
  • It is frequently cumulative in the sense that innovation is passed on over time.
  • However, forgetting is also a prominent feature of human cultural life.

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

forgotten great zimbabwe
Forgotten: Great Zimbabwe

A highly complex society with evident

hierarchy and sophisticated technology

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

forgotten mayan wetland agricultural system
Forgotten: Mayan wetland agricultural system
  • Assumed that current swidden practices maintained the Mayan empire
  • Only recently discovered a complex agricultural system that no longer exists

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

why forget
Why forget?
  • Choice
  • Force
  • Change

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

is culture adaptive
Is culture adaptive?
  • Culture provides the structure for living and the material for changing.
  • People have occupied the world and beyond.
  • Through culture and technology all ecosystems are human spaces.
  • Culture can also constrain and destroy intentionally and accidentally.

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

is anthropology a science
Is anthropology a science?
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Patterns and differences
  • Experimental
  • Variable accumulation

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

kotak the new ecological anthropology
Kotak - The New Ecological Anthropology
  • Old - Optimization, isolation, negative feedback, stasis, political naïveté
  • New - Continual growth in population & consumption, environmental degradation, technological innovation, transnationalism. Policy and solution oriented

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

slide26
Old
  • Ecological population/ecosytem where geographically limited and bounded. Groups of people were seen to be living the same limits.
  • Groups were seen as relatively self supporting and with limited or insignificant relationships with other groups.
  • Focused on small groups.
  • Core features of culture important-edges and boundaries were not considered.
  • Cognized (emic) Operationalized (etic) models

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

slide27
New
  • Reflects a changing discipline and understanding of culture
  • Cultures under contact
  • Environments are shared and power is exerted in their transformation into “resources”
  • It’s not just about subsistence anymore
  • Scale of study is larger, more complex and multi-sited (national, international)
  • Still rooted in the traditional methods and perspectives of the discipline

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

slide28
Applied - solution oriented
  • Policy and analytically focused
    • Various sources of control over lands and resources often disputed
    • Colonial and post-colonial issues
  • Rights and abuses are of concern
  • Individual and collective survival is a twin issue
  • Flows of people between and within countries have huge ecological effects

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

3 issues for the n e a
3 issues for the N.E.A.
  • Ethnoecological clashes: Developmentalism and Environmentalism
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Ecological Awareness and Environmental Risk Percpetion

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

methods
Methods
  • Linkages methodology
  • Team and multi-sited
  • New tools (Sattelite imagery, maping…)

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

romer s rule
Romer’s Rule
  • Return to the culture - evolution analogy
  • “innovation that evolves to maintain a system can play a major role in changing that system” (p.33)

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

slide32
“Adaptation is the process by which organisms or groups of organisms maintain homeostasis … in the face of both short-term environmental fluctuations and long-term changes in the composition and structure of their environments”

ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

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