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Week 2

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  1. Week 2 Concepts and Approaches in Ecological Anthropology and The New Ecological Anthropology

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Sahtú Dé (Bear River) ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  6. Bear Rock ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  7. Norman Wells, NT ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  8. Bates - Chapter 1 ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  9. Anthropology and the foundations of western worldview Society Culture Baun ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Anthropological approach to the study of culture: • Holism • Relativism • Method • Distribution? ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. Forgotten: Great Zimbabwe A highly complex society with evident hierarchy and sophisticated technology ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  21. 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

  22. Why forget? • Choice • Force • Change ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  23. 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

  24. Is anthropology a science? • Hypothesis testing • Inductive reasoning • Patterns and differences • Experimental • Variable accumulation ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 3 issues for the N.E.A. • Ethnoecological clashes: Developmentalism and Environmentalism • Biodiversity conservation • Ecological Awareness and Environmental Risk Percpetion ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  30. Methods • Linkages methodology • Team and multi-sited • New tools (Sattelite imagery, maping…) ANTHR 323 - Winter 2007

  31. 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

  32. “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