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ANTH 1001: Introduction to anthropology
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 (Week 3)
Available at http://anthro.rschram.org/1001/2020/1.3.2
Richard Borshay Lee “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari,” Natural History, December 1969.
Marshall Sahlins “The Original Affluent Society,” in Stone Age Economics (London: Routledge, 2017), 1–37, doi:10.4324/9781315184951.
In other words, some people are closer to nature, to human nature, and to human origins.
On the one hand it is true that for about 90–95% of human history, people lived in small, mobile societies and foraged, hunted, and gathered. Sedentary horticulture is very recent.
On the other hand, it is not true that some lucky people suddenly learned how to grow crops and said, hey, let’s become sedentary and eat potatoes forever.
If we define foragers negatively, i.e. people who don’t grow crops, we assume they lack something they need. Foraging societies can be very different from each other, and highly adaptable.
There is a theory of human life which starts from the position that all people are rational maximizers of utility.
If a foraging society learned they could produce more calories staying in one place growing potatoes, then, they should stop doing foraging and start doing potato-growing, right?
The theory that all people are rational actors leads to the idea that life is a series of practical problems and people are always trying to solve them in more efficient ways.
According to Sahlins ( 2017), foraging societies follow a “Zen road to affluence” [p. 2]
Rather than worry about how to meet unlimited needs with few means, they decide to define their needs differently and find that their means are more than enough.
From the outside, foragers appear to be poor because they lack the things that observers have.
But foragers tend to work less hours, and are still well fed and (except for epidemics introduced by foreigners) have historically had long lives.
Many foraging and horticultural societies are like people of /ai/ai described by Lee
Sedentary horticulturalists can produce greater quantities of a few domestic crops, and generally far more than anyone needs or could even eat.
Sahlins argues that the impetus to adopt this technology—and give up foraging knowledge and technology—was social in origin
Where does it make sense to assume that people make means–ends calculations to decide what to do?
Go to Canvas, and look for the quiz question for today.
This question has an answer that Ryan thinks is “right,” but the question is highly debatable. You can answer this question multiple times, and think about why you might choose one answer over another.
Boserup, Ester. (1970) 2007. Woman’s Role in Economic Development. London: Routledge.
Chagnon, Napolean. 1983. Ya̦nomamö: The Fierce People. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. https://books.google.com.au/books?id=MPArAAAAYAAJ.
Lee, Richard Borshay. 1969. “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari.” Natural History, December 1969.
Sahlins, Marshall. (1972) 2017. “The Original Affluent Society.” In Stone Age Economics, 1–37. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315184951.
General info: The goal of this class | What we will do in this class | Readings, other class requirements, and online resources | A note about attendance | The keys to success in this class | A guide to effective email | The ANTH 1001 class Canvas site (requires USYD login)
Lecture outlines and guides:
|Module 1: What makes us human?||Weeks 1–3|
|1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.3.1, 1.3.2||Ryan Schram|
|Module 2: Can an anthropologist really leave her culture?||Weeks 4–6|
|2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.2.0, 2.3.0||Ryan Schram|
|Module 3: Is family universal?||Weeks 7–9|
|3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 3.3.1, 3.3.2||Jadran Mimica|
|Module 4: Where is the mind?||Weeks 10–12|
|4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2.1, 4.2.2, 4.3.1, 4.3.2||Jadran Mimica|
|5.1.1, 5.1.2||Ryan Schram|
Assignments: Online discussion posts and responses | Weekly reflections | Module 1 concept quiz | Tell me a story...: An analysis of qualitative data | Proposal for a Grade 12 lesson on kinship | Comprehensive (open-book, take-home) essay response assignment