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playground:playground [2020/03/02 16:23]
Ryan Schram (admin) [People do seek practical solutions, but that doesn't mean every technology is always an improvement]
playground:playground [2020/03/02 16:27] (current)
Ryan Schram (admin)
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 # Draft # Draft
  
-## Cultural ​determinism and utilitarianism+## Environmental ​determinism and cultural determinism
  
 Ryan Schram Ryan Schram
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 ANTH 1001: Introduction to anthropology ANTH 1001: Introduction to anthropology
  
-Wednesday, March 11, 2020 (Week 3)+Monday, March 9, 2020 (Week 3)
  
-Available at <​http://​anthro.rschram.org/​1001/​2020/​1.3.2>+Available at <​http://​anthro.rschram.org/​1001/​2020/​1.3.1>
  
 ### Required readings ### Required readings
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-## Closer to nature+## Natural causes
  
-### Contradictory stereotypes ​of foragers ​+Over history, a number ​of thinkers have tried to explain people'​s differences by saying they are caused by climate. ​
  
-They'​re starving; ​and they have a naturally healthy diet +Hippocrates,​ Greek physician, writes that "​Asians"​ are gentle ​and "​Europeans"​ are bellicose because of the climate [@hippocrates_airs_400bce,​ part 16].  
-They forage ​and hunt because ​they don't know how to do anything else; and they are in harmony with nature+Ibn Khaldun, Arab historian, argued that the most advanced civilizations lay in temperate climates ​and not in tropical ones [@oliver_determinism_2005]. 
 +* @montesquieu_complete_1777 [p. 296-298] says that people of "​southern"​ climates are indolent physically and mentally, and thus live by traditional rules that they never think about changing.  
 +* In Boas's time, Ellen Churchill Semple ​and Ellsworth Huntington argued that all cultures were products of their environmental geography [see @wallis_geographical_1926].
  
-### The West's favorite prop for any debate about life+Many of these arguments are sophisticated and appear to be bolstered by evidence, but they all sound the same. 
  
-* Hunter-gatherers are "our contemporary ancestors"​ (Some anthropologists say this about every indigenous society; viz. @chagnon_ya̦nomamö_1983 [p. 214]). ​ 
  
-In other words, some people are closer to nature, to human nature, and to human origins. ​ 
  
-## Why do people ​want to believe that foragers are closer to nature? ​+## Marx and people's material existence
  
-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+These claims sound silly now, but certainly there is an influence ​of environment on society. People need the environment ​in order to live
  
-On the other handit is not true that some lucky people suddenly learned how to grow crops and said, hey, let's become sedentary and eat potatoes forever+Karl Marxmaterialist,​ emphasized ​that all societies have a basis in physical nature
  
-If we define foragers negatively, i.e. people who don't grow crops, we assume they lack something they needForaging societies can be very different from each otherand highly adaptable+Yet he also argues that the natural environment does not determine societyPeople use their environment as part of a **definite mode of life** [@marx_german_1972-1150]
  
-## Utility 
  
-There is a theory of human life which starts from the position that all people are rational maximizers of utility. ​ 
  
-* People always perform means--ends calculations on every choice +## Boasian cultural determinism ​and the environment ​
-* Everything has a utility. People want different things, but they can figure out how useful each thing is for them and compare them+
  
-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?+* Culture determines how people adapt
  
-## Utility maximization supports a theory of technological progress+* Two cultures adapt to the same environment in different ways 
 +  - Hopi and Navajo [@lowie_culture_1917-2,​ 50-51]
  
-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. +* Nature limits what people ​can do, but less than you might think 
 +  - Tubetube island ​in Papua New Guinea [@macintyre_changing_1980]
  
-## There is another practical solution to subsistence 
  
-According to @sahlins_original_2017-1,​ 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.+## People need natural resources ​to live, but culture determines what parts of nature ​they need
  
-But foragers tend to work less hoursand are still well fed and (except for epidemics introduced by foreigners) have historically had long lives. ​+* Example: Food prohibitions in AuhelawaPapua New Guinea
  
 +* Technology is part of people'​s cultures, too
 +    - One of the ways in which societies differ is the kinds of tools they have created. ​
 +    - Even when people can adopt new tools and technology, they may not do so. We should come back to this. 
  
-## People do seek practical solutions, but that doesn'​t mean every technology is always an improvement ​ 
  
-* Foragers do adopt new technologies,​ but usually to become better at foraging 
  
-* Judgments about the level of technological progress are often biased 
-  * Ester Boserup: female farming systems and male farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa [@boserup_womans_2007] 
-  * The move from female systems to male systems deprived women of power, and confined them to the domestic household 
  
  
 +## There are many different types of adaptation ​
 +
 +### Foraging or "​hunting and gathering"​
 +
 +Based on the collection of wild foods and game (fish and meat).
 +
 +### Pastoralism
 +
 +Based on the tending of herds of domesticated animals, e.g. cows, reindeer, sheep, camels, yaks.
 +
 +### Horticulture
 +
 +The cultivation of several different food crops in small plots and usually using simple hand tools.
 +
 +### And one more... ​
 +
 +## Agriculture ​
 +
 +Agriculture is often distinguished from horticulture by the size and scale of production, thanks to the use of specialized steel tools and draught animals, if not machines. ​
 +
 +* Peasant agriculture is a mixed type in which families produce their own food, and sell surpluses of commodity crops. ​
 +* Industrialized agriculture is the intensive production of commodity crops like rice, corn, wheat specifically for sale and usually for use in the industrial manufacture of food. 
 +* Peasants are partly integrated into a market economy and specialized division of labor. Industrial farms feed people in societies with a complex division of labor, and today, capitalist, market economies
 +
 +See Eriksen @eriksen_small_2015 [p. 255-256] for more information. ​
 +
 +
 +## How do anthropologists use these kinds of categories to understand actual cultures? ​
 +
 +Having a name for something is not the same as understanding it holistically. ​
 +
 +At best, anthropologists use these terms descriptively. They are ideal types that help us see important elements in particular cases, but never perfectly apply to a single case. 
 +
 +## Are these types of adaptation absolute? ​
 +
 +No, most societies are a mix of all of them. We can say that one type dominates, but it does not mean it excludes other possibilities
 +
 +All of these types have fuzzy boundaries anyway, so we can never be absolutely sure whether a society is primarily based on one type or not.
 +
 +The difference between horticulture and agriculture is supposedly technological,​ but it really is marked by a change in the social system
 +
 +## Technology determines some things, but not everything
 +
 +We must be wary of technological determinism too.
 +
 +  * Consider that hunting in some form often exists in societies dominated by another type of adaptation. What is different is not the technology, but the position it occupies in the whole culture.
 +  * Consider the adoption of the technology of the horse and the snowmobile among indigenous societies of the Americas. ​
 +
 +
 +## Is this diversity evidence of progress? ​
 +
 +No, just because one kind of adaptation seems to involve more technology, it is not necessarily better or more modern. ​
 +
 +* Horticulture and foraging in the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea
 +
 +
 +
 +## When we classify people in this way, there are risks and benefits
 +
 +* The benefits are that we can actually escape for simple judgments about primitive and civilized societies when we use precise terms. ​
 +  * Pastoralism isn't necessarily more advanced than horticulture;​ both are different uses of the environment. ​
 +  * Something important happens when people become sedentary but sedentarism is not caused by a technological innovation.
 +
 +
 +## Hunter-gatherers:​ The West's noble/​savage
 +
 +### Contradictory stereotypes of foragers ​
 +
 +* They'​re starving; and they have a naturally healthy diet
 +* They forage and hunt because they don't know how to do anything else; and they are in harmony with nature
 +
 +### The West's favorite prop for any debate about life
  
-## The move to sedentary horticulture may have social causes, not practical ones+* Hunter-gatherers are "our contemporary ancestors"​ (Some anthropologists say this about every indigenous society; e.g. @chagnon_ya̦nomamö_1983 [p. 214]). ​
  
-Many foraging and horticultural societies are like people of /ai/ai described by Lee +## Quiz: How can we describe environmental determinism?​
-  * Being wealthy is not worth it, because everyone should be equal.  +
-  * Having a lot or having a little is luck you should share with others.+
  
-Sedentary horticulturalists can produce greater quantities of a few domestic crops, and generally far more than anyone needs or could even eat+Let's compare these claims to ones we discussed last week
  
-Sahlins argues that the impetus ​to adopt this technology---and give up foraging knowledge and technology---was social in origin +Go to Canvas ​and answer the quiz question for today. ​
-  * Many sedentary horticulturalists use their food surpluses as gifts and tributes in large feasts  +
-  * They adopt a mode of subsistence in which they always need to work more, not to eat well, but to participate in social institutions that serve a political purpose+
  
 +There is a "​right"​ answer, but you can take this question multiple times if you need to. 
  
playground/playground.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/02 16:27 by Ryan Schram (admin)