Subsistence Systems

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Comparative Food Colllection and Production Systems

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Subsistence Systems

  1. 1. Subsistence Systems Making a Living Cross-Culturally
  2. 2. What are Subsistence Systems? <ul><li>Ways of making a living--directly </li></ul><ul><li>Types of subsistence Systems </li></ul><ul><li>Foraging/Hunting and Gathering </li></ul><ul><li>Horticulture </li></ul><ul><li>Intensive Cultivation or Agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Pastoralism </li></ul><ul><li>Equestrian Hunting </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why Study Subsistence Systems? <ul><li>Kingdom: Animalia: </li></ul><ul><li>We cannot produce food by photosynthesis--no chlorophyll </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, we ultimately rely on plants </li></ul><ul><li>We are how we produce </li></ul><ul><li>Foragers are organized around the hunting and the gathering </li></ul><ul><li>So are horticulturists in horticulture </li></ul><ul><li>So are all the others </li></ul>
  4. 4. Subsistence Systems and Adaptation <ul><li>Culture is largely adaptive </li></ul><ul><li>Main locus of adaptation: subsistence </li></ul><ul><li>As subsistence systems become more complex </li></ul><ul><li>Societies become more complex </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore societies evolve from the simple to the complex </li></ul>
  5. 5. Overview <ul><li>Subsistence systems </li></ul><ul><li>Principles of cultural materialism </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Evolution </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Ecology </li></ul><ul><li>History of evolutionary thought </li></ul>
  6. 6. Types of Subsistence Systems <ul><li>Foraging or Hunting Gathering : Hunting animals, gathering plants </li></ul><ul><li>Horticulture: Cultivation with digging stick, hoe, or other hand tool(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Intensive Cultivation: Cultivation with high-yield technology: irrigation, plow </li></ul><ul><li>Pastoralism: Herding large animals </li></ul><ul><li>Equestrian Hunting: Hunting using draft animals (horse, reindeer) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Foraging: Main Features <ul><li>Food is where you find it </li></ul><ul><li>Direct dependence on naturally available plants and animals </li></ul><ul><li>Plant foods (like these mongongo nuts gathered by !Kung women) </li></ul><ul><li>Form 80% of the diet among most foragers </li></ul><ul><li>Near total reliance on hunting is rare (as among the seal-hunting Inuit here) </li></ul><ul><li>Fluctuation of food sources by place, season, and year </li></ul><ul><li>Means of meat storage rare or nonexistent </li></ul><ul><li>Foragers do have wide variety of food </li></ul>
  8. 8. Foraging: Carrying Capacity <ul><li>Population limited by </li></ul><ul><li>Carrying capacity: population resources can support </li></ul><ul><li>Density of social relations </li></ul><ul><li>Liebig’s Law of the Minimum </li></ul><ul><li>Populations may not increase </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond the minimum amount of critical resources </li></ul><ul><li>That an environment yields </li></ul>
  9. 9. Liebig’s Law of the Minimum Illustrated <ul><li>The lowest stave of a barrel limits its capacity </li></ul><ul><li>Crops can yield only as much </li></ul><ul><li>As the amount of a critical nutrient </li></ul><ul><li>Applies to carrying capacity limits </li></ul>
  10. 10. Foraging: Sharing and Property <ul><li>Sharing ethic: shared according to rules </li></ul><ul><li>Netsilik Inuit: Partnerships by seal anatomy </li></ul><ul><li>!Kung: Hunters and owner of arrow “own” the game </li></ul><ul><li>Owner is only stewardship </li></ul><ul><li>Game is shared by definite obligations </li></ul><ul><li>Property: Communalism </li></ul>
  11. 11. Foraging: Other Derived Characteristics <ul><li>Egalitarianism </li></ul><ul><li>No incentive to hoard </li></ul><ul><li>Social class differences minimal </li></ul><ul><li>Work time </li></ul><ul><li>Average: 15-20 hours/week </li></ul><ul><li>Nonintensive labor with other activities </li></ul><ul><li>Domestic mode of production: work done until needs are met </li></ul>
  12. 12. Foragers: Contemporary Ancestors? <ul><li>Some societies may reflect early foragers </li></ul><ul><li>Qualifications </li></ul><ul><li>Foragers could be deculturated </li></ul><ul><li>!Kung may have been herdsman once </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced to foraging by Bantu expansion </li></ul><ul><li>Foragers occupy margins of earth </li></ul><ul><li>Desert (SW Africa, Australia, Nevada basin) </li></ul><ul><li>Extremely cold regions (Arctic regions) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Food-Producing Societies <ul><li>First indications: Neolithic ca 10,000 BP </li></ul><ul><li>In the Fertile Crescent, Near East </li></ul><ul><li>Characteristics </li></ul><ul><li>Domestication of Plants (emmer wheat), animals, or both </li></ul><ul><li>Human control over food production </li></ul><ul><li>Quantities of food greater than foragers </li></ul><ul><li>Settled communities (except herders) </li></ul><ul><li>Increases in population </li></ul><ul><li>Complex social structures. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Horticulture <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivation of crops </li></ul><ul><li>Carried out with hand tools </li></ul><ul><li>Such as digging sticks or hoes </li></ul><ul><li>Neither plows or irrigation systems are used </li></ul><ul><li>Best known type of cultivation involves use of slash-and-burn or swidden cultivation </li></ul>
  15. 15. Basics of Slash-and-Burn Cultivation <ul><li>A site is cleared of brush and trees </li></ul><ul><li>Trees are felled, brush stacked </li></ul><ul><li>Once dried, the brush and trees are set afire (top photo). </li></ul><ul><li>Planting begins </li></ul><ul><li>Usually, crops are interplanted </li></ul><ul><li>Once soil is exhausted, site is abandoned (bottom photo) </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivators clear a new site </li></ul>
  16. 16. Slash-and-Burn Cultivation: Adaptive Significance <ul><li>Most slash-and-burn cultivation is practiced in the tropics </li></ul><ul><li>Tropical climate is extremely hard on soils </li></ul><ul><li>Intense heat </li></ul><ul><li>Heavy rainfall </li></ul><ul><li>Chemical reaction from heat and rain </li></ul><ul><li>Slash-and-burn is best adapted to this climate--which the following will show </li></ul>
  17. 17. Constants of Tropical Rainforest: Intense Heat <ul><li>Plant and animal matter decompose to form humus or topsoil </li></ul><ul><li>Humus formatio virtually stops if soil reaches 77 degrees Fahrenheit </li></ul><ul><li>Decomposition of humus exceed formation </li></ul><ul><li>Humic materials break down to gases: ammonia, nitrogen, carbon dioxide </li></ul><ul><li>Gases escape into the atmosphere </li></ul>
  18. 18. Constants of Tropical Rainforest: Rainfall <ul><li>Rainfall acts on the soil in two ways </li></ul><ul><li>Erosion: </li></ul><ul><li>Rainfall carries away soil particles </li></ul><ul><li>Particles themselves scour surface] </li></ul><ul><li>Abrasion carries off even more soil </li></ul><ul><li>Leaching </li></ul><ul><li>Warm water dissolves water-soluble nutrients </li></ul><ul><li>Nutrients seep into subsoil </li></ul>
  19. 19. Constants of Tropical Rainforest: Laterization <ul><li>Laterite: the oxides of minerals </li></ul><ul><li>Such as iron oxide at top layer (photo) </li></ul><ul><li>Combined heat and moisture creates oxides </li></ul><ul><li>Process is irreversible </li></ul><ul><li>Removes phosphorus, an essential nutrient </li></ul><ul><li>Cannot absorb other nutrients </li></ul>
  20. 20. A Long-Term Constant: Age of Soil <ul><li>This process has been going for centuries </li></ul><ul><li>Soil is mostly clay and sand </li></ul><ul><li>Plant and animal life is limited in protein </li></ul><ul><li>Most plants reproduce by vegetative means </li></ul><ul><li>Seeds involve large amounts of protein </li></ul><ul><li>Animals are small </li></ul><ul><li>Gregarious (herding) animals are rare </li></ul>
  21. 21. Adaptation of Tropical Rainforests <ul><li>Protective canopy of leaves and epiphytic plants </li></ul><ul><li>Rate of growth </li></ul><ul><li>Juxtaposition of different types of trees </li></ul>
  22. 22. Protective Canopy <ul><li>Mature forests contain trees with thick foliage at their tops </li></ul><ul><li>Thick network of leafy branches </li></ul><ul><li>Epiphytic plants that derive nutrients from rain and air </li></ul><ul><li>Protective functions </li></ul><ul><li>Provide protective shade from sun, allowing humus to accumulate </li></ul><ul><li>Lessens action and amount of rainfall </li></ul>
  23. 23. Rate of Growth <ul><li>Rate of growth is spectacular </li></ul><ul><li>Enables rapid use of nutrients before they disappear through erosion or leaching </li></ul><ul><li>Litter fall of animal remains and dead vegetation </li></ul><ul><li>Is four times of woodland in New York state </li></ul><ul><li>Rainfall also captures nutrients from air </li></ul><ul><li>75% of potassium in soil, 40% of magnesium, and 25% of phosphorus come from rainwater </li></ul>
  24. 24. Species Juxtaposition <ul><li>Different tree species have different nutrient requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Some require more phosphorus than others </li></ul><ul><li>Other require more potassium </li></ul><ul><li>Nutrient left by one tree is taken by others </li></ul><ul><li>Dispersal of same species is protection against pests and diseases </li></ul>
  25. 25. Clean clearing would <ul><li>Compact the soil due to heavy rainfall </li></ul><ul><li>Erosion via runoff would increase </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize or eliminate formation of humus </li></ul><ul><li>Leach the soil </li></ul><ul><li>Convert the soil into laterite </li></ul><ul><li>Overall: reduce its fertility </li></ul>
  26. 26. Slash-and-Burn Cultivation Technique <ul><li>Review of distinctive features </li></ul><ul><li>Cutting and burning vegetation prior to planting </li></ul><ul><li>Shifting to new site after 2 or 3 crops </li></ul><ul><li>Mundurucú practices </li></ul><ul><li>Site selection: sloping, well-drained area </li></ul><ul><li>Clearing </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Removal of shrubs and small trees </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Felling of trees by keystone method </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Slash-and-Burn Cultivation Technique: Burning and Planting <ul><li>Mundurucú practices (con’t) </li></ul><ul><li>Burning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vegetation allowed to dry: 2 months </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fire set on day of slight breeze to fan flames </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Planting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Begins at first rains: no cultivation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hole made with digging stick </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cuttings or seeds inserted and covered </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manioc and sweet potatoes in center </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other crops planted at edges </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Slash-and-Burn Cultivation: Weeding and Harvest <ul><li>Weeding </li></ul><ul><li>Done twice during growing season </li></ul><ul><li>Harvest </li></ul><ul><li>Planting is staggered; so is harvesting </li></ul><ul><li>Harvesting done as need arises </li></ul><ul><li>Entire crop is not removed at one time </li></ul><ul><li>Manioc replanted immediately after harvest to ensure permanent supply </li></ul>
  29. 29. Slash-and-Burn Cultivation as Imitation of Rainforest <ul><li>Crops are intermixed, each with different nutrient requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces competition for same nutrient </li></ul><ul><li>Dispersal of same plants retard disease, pests </li></ul><ul><li>Staggering planting and harvest minimizes soil exposure </li></ul><ul><li>Burning slash returns nutrients to soil </li></ul>
  30. 30. Slash and Burn Cultivation as Imperfect Imitation of Rainforest <ul><li>Decomposition of stumps and branches </li></ul><ul><li>Attract pests away from crops </li></ul><ul><li>Supply added nutrients </li></ul><ul><li>Weeding of mixed value </li></ul><ul><li>Minimizes competition for nutrients </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces shade and protection from erosion </li></ul><ul><li>Imitation not the real thing </li></ul><ul><li>Yield declines by 3rd year--time to move </li></ul>
  31. 31. Yanomamo Variations <ul><li>Techniques essentially the same </li></ul><ul><li>Plantains augment manioc as staple </li></ul><ul><li>When soil deteriorates </li></ul><ul><li>Thorny shrubs grow, scratching bare skin </li></ul><ul><li>Some plants continue yields </li></ul><ul><li>New clearing is made adjacent to old site </li></ul><ul><li>Done so over the years </li></ul><ul><li>New sites cleared only under compulsion </li></ul>
  32. 32. The Protein debate <ul><li>Harris: arises when game is scarce </li></ul><ul><li>Chagnon: conflict sparked by abduction of women </li></ul><ul><li>Good: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weighed every game animal on scale </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weighed every Yanomamo villager </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Findings: Yanomamo were short on protein </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Could not link this fact with warfare </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Debate remains open: Tierney’s view </li></ul>
  33. 33. Intensive Cultivation <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Embers’: Food production characterized by the permanent cultivation of fields </li></ul><ul><li>Primary attributes </li></ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Irrigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plow </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Staple crops: rice, corn, wheat, potatoes </li></ul><ul><li>Risks of famine through disease, pests </li></ul>
  34. 34. Intensive Cultivation: Secondary Attributes <ul><li>Permanent settlements of high density </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence of full-time nonfarm occupations </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of specialization and trade </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of complex societies </li></ul><ul><li>Cities </li></ul><ul><li>Stratification </li></ul><ul><li>Codified Law </li></ul><ul><li>States and the military </li></ul>
  35. 35. Pastoralism <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Animal husbandry as the main or sole source of subsistence </li></ul><ul><li>Animals: cattle, horses, sheep, goats, camels </li></ul><ul><li>All parts of animal is consumed </li></ul><ul><li>Meat and dairy products, blood </li></ul><ul><li>Hides </li></ul><ul><li>Even dung for fire and building material </li></ul>
  36. 36. Pastoralism: Secondary Characteristics <ul><li>Environment: semi-arid grasslands; other regions unsuitable for agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Nomadic: </li></ul><ul><li>Transhumance: seasonal migration between different environmental zones. </li></ul><ul><li>Property and valuables are portable </li></ul><ul><li>Dependence on settled communities </li></ul><ul><li>Agriculture and manufactured products </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed economy lessens dependence </li></ul>
  37. 37. Pastoralism: Secondary Characteristics (Con’t) <ul><li>Warfare </li></ul><ul><li>Raid of villages or other nomads </li></ul><ul><li>Predatory states: Mongols </li></ul><ul><li>Warrior age grades in East Africa </li></ul><ul><li>Male dominance </li></ul><ul><li>Warfare required male cooperation </li></ul><ul><li>Animals are male property </li></ul><ul><li>Residence is patrilocal </li></ul><ul><li>Women have few rights </li></ul>
  38. 38. Pastoralism: Conclusion <ul><li>Incomplete food producers </li></ul><ul><li>Animals, not plants, are domesticated </li></ul><ul><li>Archaeological evidence suggest </li></ul><ul><li>Pastoralism postdates cultivation. </li></ul><ul><li>May have left settled regions </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By choice </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>by force </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Probably not a transitional form between foraging and agriculture </li></ul>
  39. 39. Equestrian Hunting <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Use of animals (horse reindeer) </li></ul><ul><li>To hunt other animals (bison, reindeer) </li></ul><ul><li>A rare phenomenon </li></ul><ul><li>Plains Indians hunting complex was not indigenous before 18th century </li></ul><ul><li>Native horses died off long before contact </li></ul><ul><li>Sources: stray horses lost by Spaniards </li></ul>
  40. 40. Equestrian Hunting: Characteristics <ul><li>Similar to pastoralism </li></ul><ul><li>Environment: grassland rendered unsuitable for hoe agriculture by sod </li></ul><ul><li>Bison moved seasonally </li></ul><ul><li>Large herds in spring and summer </li></ul><ul><li>Scattered in late fall and winter </li></ul><ul><li>Tribes moved accordingly </li></ul><ul><li>Reminiscent of transhumance </li></ul>
  41. 41. Equestrian hunting: Warlike Attributes <ul><li>Higher mobility using horse increased military superiority </li></ul><ul><li>Settle peoples may have adopted horse in self-defense </li></ul><ul><li>A causal factor: trade with whites </li></ul><ul><li>Competition for trade center access </li></ul><ul><li>Even more buffalo hunted for trade </li></ul><ul><li>Horse theft for another trade good </li></ul><ul><li>Valued trade item: guns </li></ul>
  42. 42. Subsistence, Adaptation, and Evolution <ul><li>Cultural materialism : </li></ul><ul><li>A research strategy (or plan) </li></ul><ul><li>holding that causal explanations </li></ul><ul><li>for similarities and differences among human groups </li></ul><ul><li>can best be addressed by studying the harnessing of energy </li></ul><ul><li>Through interaction between existing technology </li></ul><ul><li>And environmental limitations </li></ul>
  43. 43. Unilineal and Multilineal Evoluton <ul><li>Models of Cultural Evolution </li></ul><ul><li>Unilineal Evolution (Left) </li></ul><ul><li>All societies go through set stages (foraging, horticulture, agriculture) </li></ul><ul><li>Multilineal Evolution </li></ul><ul><li>Societies adapt evolution according to </li></ul><ul><li>Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Techniques of subsistence </li></ul>
  44. 44. Technology, Environment, and Society <ul><li>Environment: Limits and Potential to Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Technology: Known Techniques for Energy Capture and Use </li></ul><ul><li>Social Interactions: Derivative Family/Kinship, Economic, Political, and Legal Institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Ideology: Psychological State, Supernatural Beliefs, The Arts </li></ul>
  45. 45. Comparison and Evaluation <ul><li>Examined five broad subsistence systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Examined the implications of each on a society and culture </li></ul><ul><li>Traced their significance in </li></ul><ul><li>Local and regional adaptations (cultural ecology) </li></ul><ul><li>Universal cultural evolution </li></ul><ul><li>Within intellectual historical context </li></ul>

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