Subsistence Systems
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Subsistence Systems



Comparative Food Colllection and Production Systems

Comparative Food Colllection and Production Systems



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Subsistence Systems Subsistence Systems Presentation Transcript

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