The idea of a missing link between humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and popular science and actually has religious roots in the deist concept of the Great Chain of Being. Yet, the metaphor has lodged itself in the contemporary imagination, and new fossil discoveries are often hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the moment when we stopped being “animal” and started being “human.” In The Accidental Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe.
Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy. He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience. He reveals each of these attributes to be alive and well throughout the animal world—they are not, indeed, unique to our species.
The Accidental Species combines Gee’s firsthand experience on the editorial side of many incredible paleontological findings with healthy skepticism and humor to create a book that aims to overturn popular thinking on human evolution—the key is not what’s missing, but how we’re linked.
Nature no longer exists apart from humanity. The world we will inhabit is the one we have made. Geologists call this epoch the Anthropocene, Age of Humans. The facts of the Anthropocene are scientific—emissions, pollens, extinctions—but its shape and meaning are questions for politics. Jedediah Purdy develops a politics for this post-natural world.
Widespread human alteration of the planet has led many scholars to claim that we have entered a new epoch in geological time: the Anthropocene, an age dominated by humanity. This ethnography is the first to directly engage the Anthropocene, tackling its problems and paradoxes from the vantage point of the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Drawing from extensive ethnographic research, Nicholas Kawa examines how pre-Columbian Amerindians and contemporary rural Amazonians have shaped their environment, describing in vivid detail their use and management of the region’s soils, plants, and forests. At the same time, he highlights the ways in which the Amazonian environment resists human manipulation and control—a vital reminder in this time of perceived human dominance. Written in engaging, accessible prose, Amazonia in the Anthropocene offers an innovative contribution to debates about humanity’s place on the planet, encouraging deeper ecocentric thinking and a more inclusive vision of ecology for the future.
The study of human migration is integral to the understanding of essential features of human experience. Many ancient civilizations were created and modified through migrations, and migrations of later periods gave rise to the modern ethnic map of the world, affecting ideology, economy and politics. Historically, most human migration studies have taken a more specialized approach, often focusing on archaeology or linguistics. Ancient Human Migrations collects outstanding papers from internationally renowned scholars to clarify the need for multidisciplinary approaches to the topic of human migration.
This collection of papers, worldwide in scope, originated from a working conference at the Santa Fe Institute. Admixture is a common outcome of migration, and human populations are all amalgams of ancestors, neighbors, and others. As a result, the volume argues, no “pure” races, cultures, or languages can exist. The very original analyses and discussions presented here return the concept of migration to its rightful place among the known processes of human evolutionary change and variation.
Research on the effects of climate change on people and the environment has its roots in decades of study by archaeologists and meteorologists. The Archaeoclimatology Atlas of Oregon provides an in-depth look at the modeled climatic and environmental history of the region over the past 14,000 years and analyzes the relationship between climatic variables and people in the past.
The Macrophysical Climate Model (MCM) used for the atlas presents an innovative means of modeling past climate that has been rigorously tested and verified against field evidence worldwide. Broad-scale reconstructions of specific times in the past provide detailed site-specific graphs of precipitation, temperature, evaporation, and snowfall for more than 75 locations in Oregon.
Applications of the model and its implications for human populations in Oregon are explored for each region of the state, demonstrating the variability of human-climate interactions.
What happens if we abandon the assumption that a person is a discrete, world-making agent who acts on and creates place? This, Monique Allewaert contends, is precisely what occurred on eighteenth-century American plantations, where labor practices and ecological particularities threatened the literal and conceptual boundaries that separated persons from the natural world.
Integrating political philosophy and ecocriticism with literary analysis, Ariel’s Ecology explores the forms of personhood that developed out of New World plantations, from Georgia and Florida through Jamaica to Haiti and extending into colonial metropoles such as Philadelphia. Allewaert’s examination of the writings of naturalists, novelists, and poets; the oral stories of Africans in the diaspora; and Afro-American fetish artifacts shows that persons in American plantation spaces were pulled into a web of environmental stresses, ranging from humidity to the demand for sugar. This in turn gave rise to modes of personhood explicitly attuned to human beings’ interrelation with nonhuman forces in a process we might call ecological.
Certainly the possibility that colonial life revokes human agency haunts works from Shakespeare’s Tempest and Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws to Spivak’s theories of subalternity. In Allewaert’s interpretation, the transformation of colonial subjectivity into ecological personhood is not a nightmare; it is, rather, a mode of existence until now only glimmering in Che Guevara’s dictum that postcolonial resistance is synonymous with “perfect knowledge of the ground.”
Indigenous nations are on the front line of the climate crisis. With cultures and economies among the most vulnerable to climate-related catastrophes, Native peoples are developing twenty-first century responses to climate change that serve as a model for Natives and non-Native communities alike.
Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest and Indigenous peoples around the Pacific Rim have already been deeply affected by droughts, flooding, reduced glaciers and snowmelts, seasonal shifts in winds and storms, and the northward movement of species on the land and in the ocean. Using tools of resilience, Native peoples are creating defenses to strengthen their communities, mitigate losses, and adapt where possible.
Asserting Native Resilience presents a rich variety of perspectives on Indigenous responses to the climate crisis, reflecting the voices of more than twenty contributors, including tribal leaders, scientists, scholars, and activists from the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, Alaska, and Aotearoa / New Zealand, and beyond. Also included is a resource directory of Indigenous governments, NGOs, and communities and a community organizing booklet for use by Northwest tribes.
What distinguishes humans from nonhumans? Two common answers—free will and religion—are in some ways fundamentally opposed. Whereas free will enjoys a central place in our ideas of spontaneity, authorship, and deliberation, religious practices seem to involve a suspension of or relief from the exercise of our will. What, then, is agency, and why has it occupied such a central place in theories of the human?
Automatic Religion explores an unlikely series of episodes from the end of the nineteenth century, when crucial ideas related to automatism and, in a different realm, the study of religion were both being born. Paul Christopher Johnson draws on years of archival and ethnographic research in Brazil and France to explore the crucial boundaries being drawn at the time between humans, “nearhumans,” and automata. As agency came to take on a more central place in the philosophical, moral, and legal traditions of the West, certain classes of people were excluded as less-than-human. Tracking the circulation of ideas across the Atlantic, Johnson tests those boundaries, revealing how they were constructed on largely gendered and racial foundations. In the process, he reanimates one of the most mysterious and yet foundational questions in trans-Atlantic thought: what is agency?
In Biocultural Creatures, Samantha Frost brings feminist and political theory together with findings in the life sciences to recuperate the category of the human for politics. Challenging the idea of human exceptionalism as well as other theories of subjectivity that rest on a distinction between biology and culture, Frost proposes that humans are biocultural creatures who quite literally are cultured within the material, social, and symbolic worlds they inhabit. Through discussions about carbon, the functions of cell membranes, the activity of genes and proteins, the work of oxygen, and the passage of time, Frost recasts questions about the nature of matter, identity, and embodiment. In doing so, she elucidates the imbrication of the biological and cultural within the corporeal self. In remapping the relation of humans to their habitats and arriving at the idea that humans are biocultural creatures, Frost provides new theoretical resources for responding to political and environmental crises and for thinking about how to transform the ways we live.
Bones of Contention is a behind-the-scenes look at the search for human origins. Analyzing how the biases and preconceptions of paleoanthropologists shaped their work, Roger Lewin's detective stories about the discovery of Neanderthal Man, the Taung Child, Lucy, and other major fossils provide insight into this most subjective of scientific endeavors. The new afterword looks at ways in which paleoanthropology, while becoming more scientific
in many ways, remains contentious.
"[An] un-put-downable book."—John Gribbon, Times Educational Supplement
"Not just another 'stones and bones' account of human evolution. It is Lewin's thesis, amply demonstrated, that paleoanthropology is the most subjective of sciences because it engages the emotions of virtually everyone; and since the evidence is scrappy, interpretation is everything. . . . A splendid, stirring, and eye-opening account, to be devoured."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"[Lewin shows] 'how very unscientific the process of scientific inquiry can be.'. . . Bones of Contention is . . . serious intellectual history."—Edward Dolnick, Wall Street Journal
"[Lewin] documents his thesis in persuasive detail. . . . The reader is carried along by the power of Mr. Lewin's reporting."—Robert Wright, New York Times Book Review
One of the most shocking realizations of all time has slowly been dawning on us: the earth's climate does great flip-flops every few thousand years, and with breathtaking speed. In just a few years, the climate suddenly cools worldwide. With only half the rainfall, severe dust storms whirl across vast areas. Lightning strikes ignite giant forest fires. For most mammals, including our ancestors, populations crash.
Our ancestors lived through hundreds of such abrupt episodes since the more gradual Ice Ages began two and a half million years ago—but abrupt cooling produced a population bottleneck each time, one that eliminated most of their relatives. We are the improbable descendants of those who survived—and later thrived.
William H. Calvin's marvelous A Brain for All Seasons argues that such cycles of cool, crash, and burn powered the pump for the enormous increase in brain size and complexity in human beings. Driven by the imperative to adapt within a generation to "whiplash" climate changes where only grass did well for a while, our ancestors learned to cooperate and innovate in hunting large grazing animals.
Calvin's book is structured as a travelogue that takes us around the globe and back in time. Beginning at Darwin's home in England, Calvin sits under an oak tree and muses on what controls the speed of evolutionary "progress." The Kalahari desert and the Sterkfontein caves in South Africa serve as the backdrop for a discussion of our ancestors' changing diets. A drought-shrunken lake in Kenya shows how grassy mudflats become great magnets for grazing animals. And in Copenhagen, we learn what ice cores have told us about abrupt jumps in past climates.
Perhaps the most dramatic discovery of all, though, awaits us as we fly with Calvin over the Gulf Stream and Greenland: global warming caused by human-made pollution could paradoxically trigger another sudden episode of global cooling. Because of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the oceanic "conveyor belt" that sends warmer waters into the North Atlantic could abruptly shut down. If that happens again, much of the Earth could be plunged into a deep chill within a few years. Europe would become as cold and dry as Siberia. Agriculture could not adapt quickly enough to avoid worldwide famines and wars over the dwindling food supplies—a crash from which it would take us many centuries to recover.
With this warning, Calvin connects us directly to evolution and the surprises it holds. Highly illustrated, conversational, and learned, A Brain for All Seasons is a fascinating view of where we came from, and where we're going.
Humanity is by many measures the biggest success story in the animal kingdom; but what are the costs of this triumph? Over its three million years of existence, the human species has continuously modified nature and drained its resources. In Cataclysms, Laurent Testot provides the full tally, offering a comprehensive environmental history of humanity’s unmatched and perhaps irreversible influence on the world.
Testot explores the interconnected histories of human evolution and planetary deterioration, arguing that our development from naked apes to Homo sapiens has entailed wide-scale environmental harm. Testot makes the case that humans have usually been catastrophic for the planet, “hyperpredators” responsible for mass extinctions, deforestation, global warming, ocean acidification, and unchecked pollution, as well as the slaughter of our own species. Organized chronologically around seven technological revolutions, Cataclysms unspools the intertwined saga of humanity and our environment, from our shy beginnings in Africa to today’s domination of the planet, revealing how we have blown past any limits along the way—whether by exploding our own population numbers, domesticating countless other species, or harnessing energy from fossils. Testot’s book, while sweeping, is light and approachable, telling the stories—sometimes rambunctious, sometimes appalling—of how a glorified monkey transformed its own environment beyond all recognition.
In order to begin reversing our environmental disaster, we must have a better understanding of our own past and the incalculable environmental costs incurred at every stage of human innovation. Cataclysms offers that understanding and the hope that we can now begin to reform our relationship to the Earth.
The great debates about human origins, cultural history, and human nature confront us with two opposing images of human beings. One view emphasizes biology, the other emphasizes culture as the foundation of human behavior. In The Chosen Primate, Adam Kuper reframes these debates and reconsiders the fundamental questions of anthropology. Balancing biological and cultural perspectives, Kuper reviews our beliefs about human origins, the history of human culture, genes and intelligence, the nature of the gender differences, and the foundations of human politics.
Table of Contents:
1. All Darwinians Now? 2. To Begin at the Beginning 3. A Human Way of Life 4. The Evolution of Culture 5. Cultivating the Species 6. The Common Heritage 7. First Family 8. Male and Female 9. The Origin of Society 10. The Second Millennium
Further Reading and Notes Index
Reviews of this book: Few other anthropologists have a breadth of experience comparable to Adam Kuper's...But the edge that has made possible this much-needed introduction to general anthropology is a result of his also being a seasoned spare-time journalist...The book deserves to be read not only by newcomers to anthropology but by all who are concerned about its fragmentation. --Jonathan Benthall, New Statesman and Society
Reviews of this book: [An] elegant and...wise book...Kuper treats the reader to concise and enlightening vignettes of those thinkers on culture, genetics, gender, and a host of other related topics whose fundamental intellectual dynamic has been a recognition of man's primate identity and its disputed implications. --Christopher Pinney, Times Higher Education Supplement
Reviews of this book: It has been rather a while since a good integrative, synthetic work on the nature of human biological and cultural variation has appeared...Adam Kuper's new book is a welcome contribution--broad in scope, contemporary in ideas, knowledgeable and critical at all turns, opinionated, and eminently readable...Kuper's central theme is that anthropology has told us a lot about human behavior and human nature, and that by implication the casual dismissal of anthropology on the part of the hyperbiologically minded is unwise...A very fine book indeed...In these times when it is often hard to find the anthropology in physical anthropology, or to find biology discussed in the context of human behavior in any but the crudest of ways, The Chosen Primate is long overdue and very much needed. --Jon Marks, American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Reviews of this book: Kuper's book is an excellent introduction to an eternally awkward, though fascinating area of anthropology. --Mark Ridley, Nature
Reviews of this book: An extremely well-written, clear, and concise treatise on the debates surrounding the issues of human origins, human nature, and human diversity. Kuper provides a historical perspective for contemporary anthropological theory through an epigrammatic account of the major figures shaping the discipline. Beginning with the reluctant genius of Charles Darwin, discussion leads to such diverse topics as fossil evidence for recognizable human culture, primate ethology, ethnography, eugenics, cultural universals, the origins of human society, and the future of humankind...This book provides ample food for thought. --S. D. Stout, Choice
Cundill History Prize Finalist
Longman–History Today Prize Finalist
“Meticulous environmental-historical detective work.”
—Times Literary Supplement
When Europeans first arrived in North America, they faced a cold new world. The average global temperature had dropped to lows unseen in millennia. The effects of this climactic upheaval were stark and unpredictable: blizzards and deep freezes, droughts and famines, winters in which everything froze, even the Rio Grande. A Cold Welcome tells the story of this crucial period, taking us from Europe’s earliest expeditions in unfamiliar landscapes to the perilous first winters in Quebec and Jamestown. As we confront our own uncertain future, it offers a powerful reminder of the unexpected risks of an unpredictable climate.
“A remarkable journey through the complex impacts of the Little Ice Age on Colonial North America…This beautifully written, important book leaves us in no doubt that we ignore the chronicle of past climate change at our peril. I found it hard to put down.”
—Brian Fagan, author of The Little Ice Age
“Deeply researched and exciting…His fresh account of the climatic forces shaping the colonization of North America differs significantly from long-standing interpretations of those early calamities.”
—New York Review of Books
All too often, we think of nature as something distinct from ourselves, something to go and see, a place that’s separate from the ordinary modern world in which we live and work. But if we take the time to look, we soon find that’s not how nature works. Even in our parceled-out, paved-over urban environs, nature is all around us; it is in us. It is us.
That’s what Rob Cowen discovered after moving to a new home in northern England. After ten years in London he was suddenly adrift, searching for a sense of connection. He found himself drawn to a square-mile patch of waste ground at the edge of town. Scrappy, weed-filled, this heart-shaped tangle of land was the very definition of overlooked—a thoroughly in-between place that capitalism no longer had any use for, leaving nature to take its course. Wandering its meadows, woods, hedges, and fields, Cowen found it was also a magical, mysterious place, haunted and haunting, abandoned but wildly alive—and he fell in fascinated love.
Common Ground is a true account of that place and Cowen’s transformative journey through its layers and lives, but it’s much more too. As the land’s stories intertwine with events in his own life—and he learns he is to become a father for the first time—the divisions between human and nature begin to blur and shift. The place turns out to be a mirror, revealing what we are, what we’re not and how those two things are ultimately inseparable.
This is a book about discovering a new world, a forgotten world on the fringes of our daily lives, and the richness that comes from uncovering the stories and lives—animal and human—contained within. It is an unforgettable piece of nature writing, part of a brilliant tradition that stretches from Gilbert White to Robert Macfarlane and Helen Macdonald.
“I am dreaming of the edge-land again,” Cowen writes. Read Common Ground, and you, too, will be dreaming of the spaces in between, and what—including us—thrives there.
In Creating a Human World, Trappist monk and scholar Ernest Daniel Carrere explores what it means to be fully human, to live in a shared world, and to resist the easy tendency to flee reality and seek pleasure in material pursuits. To do so he examines the writings of three great modern thinkers—Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, and Søren Kierkegaard—and proposes a new reading of their work in light of his own understanding of New Testament teachings.
Carrere elucidates the paradoxical spiritual truth that salvation lies not in an escape from humanity, but in embracing it. An interdisciplinary tour de force, this book will appeal to anyone interested in philosophy, psychology, religion, or cultural anthropology.
A landmark work on human migration around the globe, Cultures in Contact provides a history of the world told through the movements of its people. It is a broad, pioneering interpretation of the scope, patterns, and consequences of human migrations over the past ten centuries. In this magnum opus thirty years in the making, Dirk Hoerder reconceptualizes the history of migration and immigration, establishing that societal transformation cannot be understood without taking into account the impact of migrations and, indeed, that mobility is more characteristic of human behavior than is stasis.
Signaling a major paradigm shift, Cultures in Contact creates an English-language map of human movement that is not Atlantic Ocean-based. Hoerder describes the origins, causes, and extent of migrations around the globe and analyzes the cultural interactions they have triggered. He pays particular attention to the consequences of immigration within the receiving countries. His work sweeps from the eleventh century forward through the end of the twentieth, when migration patterns shifted to include transpacific migration, return migrations from former colonies, refugee migrations, and distinct regional labor migrations in the developing world. Hoerder demonstrates that as we enter the third millennium, regional and intercontinental migration patterns no longer resemble those of previous centuries. They have been transformed by new communications systems and other forces of globalization and transnationalism.
The book is divided into seven chapters. The first discusses general anthropological principles and theories pertaining to human adaptation and development in cold environments. The second outlines the environmental conditions of the specific area under study in the book.
The next two chapters focus on Neanderthal finds in the area. The following two chapters discuss the replacement of the local Neanderthal population by the Cro-magnons, and the development of their way of life in the cold Loess Steppe environment. The final chapter summarizes the discussion and is followed by an extremely valuable and extensive bibliography, more than half of which consists of non-English (primarily Russian) sources.
In humanity’s more than 100,000 year history, we have evolved from vulnerable creatures clawing sustenance from Earth to a sophisticated global society manipulating every inch of it. In short, we have become the dominant animal. Why, then, are we creating a world that threatens our own species? What can we do to change the current trajectory toward more climate change, increased famine, and epidemic disease?
Renowned Stanford scientists Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich believe that intelligently addressing those questions depends on a clear understanding of how we evolved and how and why we’re changing the planet in ways that darken our descendants’ future. The Dominant Animal arms readers with that knowledge, tracing the interplay between environmental change and genetic and cultural evolution since the dawn of humanity. In lucid and engaging prose, they describe how Homo sapiens adapted to their surroundings, eventually developing the vibrant cultures, vast scientific knowledge, and technological wizardry we know today.
But the Ehrlichs also explore the flip side of this triumphant story of innovation and conquest. As we clear forests to raise crops and build cities, lace the continents with highways, and create chemicals never before seen in nature, we may be undermining our own supremacy. The threats of environmental damage are clear from the daily headlines, but the outcome is far from destined. Humanity can again adapt—if we learn from our evolutionary past.
Those lessons are crystallized in The Dominant Animal. Tackling the fundamental challenge of the human predicament, Paul and Anne Ehrlich offer a vivid and unique exploration of our origins, our evolution, and our future.
An Ecology of Happiness
Eric Lambin University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress GF51.L3513 2012 | Dewey Decimal 304.2
We know that our gas-guzzling cars are warming the planet, the pesticides and fertilizers from farms are turning rivers toxic, and the earth has run out of space for the mountains of unrecycled waste our daily consumption has left in its wake. We’ve heard copious accounts of our impact—as humans, as a society—on the natural world. But this is not a one-sided relationship. Lost in these dire and scolding accounts has been the impact on us and our well-being. You sense it while walking on a sandy beach, or in a wild, woody forest, or when you catch sight of wildlife, or even while gardening in your backyard. Could it be that the natural environment is an essential part of our happiness? Yes, says Eric Lambin emphatically in An Ecology of Happiness. Using a very different strategy in addressing environmental concerns, he asks us to consider that there may be no better reason to value and protect the health of the planet than for our own personal well-being.
In this clever and wide-ranging work, Lambin draws on new scientific evidence in the fields of geography, political ecology, environmental psychology, urban studies, and disease ecology, among others, to answer such questions as: To what extent do we need nature for our well-being? How does environmental degradation affect our happiness? What can be done to protect the environment and increase our well-being at the same time? Drawing on case studies from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America, Lambin makes a persuasive case for the strong link between healthy ecosystems and happy humans.
Unique in its scope and evenhanded synthesis of research from many fields, An Ecology of Happiness offers a compelling human-centered argument that is impossible to overlook when we marvel at murmurations of starlings or seek out the most brilliant fall foliage: nature makes our steps a little lighter and our eyes a little brighter. What better reason to protect an ecosystem or save a species than for our own pleasure?
Where did the first Americans come from and when did they get here? That basic question of American archaeology, long thought to have been solved, is re-emerging as a critical issue as the number of well-excavated sites dating to pre-Clovis times increases. It now seems possible that small populations of human foragers entered the Americas prior to the creation of the continental glacial barrier. While the archaeological and paleoecological aspects of a post-glacial entry have been well studied, there is little work available on the possibility of a pre-glacial entry.
Entering America seeks to fill that void by providing the most up-to-date information on the nature of environmental and cultural conditions in northeast Asia and Beringia (the Bering land bridge) immediately prior to the Last Glacial Maximum. Because the peopling of the New World is a question of international archaeological interest, this volume will be important to specialists and nonspecialists alike.
The authors consider the ways in which the high degree of ethnic diversity within the region is related to the nature of tropical Asian environments, on the one hand, and the nature of Southeast Asian political systems and the ways in which they manipulate natural resources, on the other. Rather than focus on defining the phenomenon of ethnicity, this book examines the different social evolutionary contexts in which the phenomenon is manifested.
Companion volume to Cultural Values and Human Ecology in Southeast Asia (Michigan Papers no. 27).
With three roads and a population of just over 500 people, Shishmaref, Alaska seems like an unlikely center of the climate change debate. But the island, home to Iñupiaq Eskimos who still live off subsistence harvesting, is falling into the sea, and climate change is, at least in part, to blame. While countries sputter and stall over taking environmental action, Shishmaref is out of time.
Publications from the New York Times to Esquire have covered this disappearing village, yet few have taken the time to truly show the community and the two millennia of traditions at risk. In Fierce Climate, Sacred Ground, Elizabeth Marino brings Shishmaref into sharp focus as a place where people in a close-knit, determined community are confronting the realities of our changing planet every day. She shows how physical dangers challenge lives, while the stress and uncertainty challenge culture and identity. Marino also draws on Shishmaref’s experiences to show how disasters and the outcomes of climate change often fall heaviest on those already burdened with other social risks and often to communities who have contributed least to the problem. Stirring and sobering, Fierce Climate, Sacred Ground proves that the consequences of unchecked climate change are anything but theoretical.
We humans are difficult animals. We are the source of environmental degradation, the culprits of resource decline. We are reluctant to trust and easily angered. However, we are also the source of inspiration, compassion, and creative solutions. What brings out the reasonable side of our capacity? The Reasonable Person Model (RPM) offers a simple framework for considering essential ingredients in how people, at their best, deal with one another and the resources on which we all rely. RPM is a hopeful and engaging framework that helps us understand and address a wide diversity of issues. The 20 chapters of Fostering Reasonableness provide the conceptual foundations of the framework and applications examining contexts as diverse as a region, organization, the classroom, finding common ground in resource planning, education in the prison environment, greening in the inner city. Our collective hope in putting the book together is to encourage a way of seeing, a way of understanding and examining circumstances that might lead to more wholesome, adaptive, and effective means of addressing the big and little issues that depend on humanity’s reasonableness.
The global environment has been in a state of change since the height of the last glacial maximum of the Pleistocene. Examining this state of flux of both the natural environment and the living organisms that inhabit it, I. G. Simmons’s Global Environmental History ranges from 10,000 BCE to the modern day to present an incredibly rich and deep time overview of how we have come to our current state of ecological crisis.
A far-reaching approach that considers the truly global picture and recognizes the contributions of many disciplines—including the natural sciences, the social sciences, and increasingly, the humanities—Global Environmental History focuses not only on the material world but also on humans’ ideas about the planet and their place on it. Taking as his starting point the major phases of human technological evolution of the last 12,000 years, Simmons considers how these changes have affected the natural world and goes on to assess the response to conditions such as climate change. By putting today’s environmental preoccupations into a long-term perspective, Simmons reveals the history of some current anxieties.
A timely examination of the interrelation of history and nature, Simmons’s book will be welcomed by any concerned reader interested in the origins of the modern environmental crisis.
In The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context, contributors reject the popularized link between societal collapse and drought in Maya civilization, arguing that a series of periodic “collapses,” including the infamous Terminal Classic collapse (AD 750–1050), were not caused solely by climate change–related droughts but by a combination of other social, political, and environmental factors. New and senior scholars of archaeology and environmental science explore the timing and intensity of droughts and provide a nuanced understanding of socio-ecological dynamics, with specific reference to what makes communities resilient or vulnerable when faced with environmental change.Contributors recognize the existence of four droughts that correlate with periods of demographic and political decline and identify a variety of concurrent political and social issues. They argue that these primary underlying factors were exacerbated by drought conditions and ultimately led to societal transitions that were by no means uniform across various sites and subregions. They also deconstruct the concept of “collapse” itself—although the line of Maya kings ended with the Terminal Classic collapse, the Maya people and their civilization survived.
The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context offers new insights into the complicated series of events that impacted the decline of Maya civilization. This significant contribution to our increasingly comprehensive understanding of ancient Maya culture will be of interest to students and scholars of archaeology, anthropology, geography, and environmental studies.
From his groundbreaking Violence and the Sacred and Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World, René Girard’s mimetic theory is presented as elucidating “the origins of culture.” He posits that archaic religion (or “the sacred”), particularly in its dynamics of sacrifice and ritual, is a neglected and major key to unlocking the enigma of “how we became human.” French philosopher of science Michel Serres states that Girard’s theory provides a Darwinian theory of culture because it “proposes a dynamic, shows an evolution and gives a universal explanation.” This major claim has, however, remained underscrutinized by scholars working on Girard’s theory, and it is mostly overlooked within the natural and social sciences. Joining disciplinary worlds, this book aims to explore this ambitious claim, invoking viewpoints as diverse as evolutionary culture theory, cultural anthropology, archaeology, cognitive psychology, ethology, and philosophy. The contributors provide major evidence in favor of Girard’s hypothesis. Equally, Girard’s theory is presented as having the potential to become for the human and social sciences something akin to the integrating framework that present-day biological science owes to Darwin—something compatible with it and complementary to it in accounting for the still remarkably little understood phenomenon of human emergence.
How human beings have adapted to a wide range of stressful environments – extreme temperatures, solar radiation, high altitudes, and nutritional stress – has been the subject of much research in recent years by psychologists, biologists, and physical anthropologists. Here for the first time Dr. Frisancho presents in a single volume knowledge on human adaptation that has previously been widely scattered and highly specialized. He examines from physiological and anthropological perspectives the short- and long-term reactions of the human body to various environmental stresses. Based on research that has been done in the laboratory and from studies of native populations living in stressful environments, Dr. Frisancho discusses the effects of extreme heat and cold, solar radiation and the selective value of skin pigmentation, high altitude hypoxia, growth in high altitude populations, diseases related to life in high altitudes, diseases and effects of undernourishment, and disease and the westernization of diet. This work is a valuable and much needed introduction to the field of human adaptation.
Since its publication in 1989, The Human Career has proved to be an indispensable tool in teaching human origins. This substantially revised third edition retains Richard G. Klein’s innovative approach while showing how cumulative discoveries and analyses over the past ten years have significantly refined our knowledge of human evolution.
Klein chronicles the evolution of people from the earliest primates through the emergence of fully modern humans within the past 200,000 years. His comprehensive treatment stresses recent advances in knowledge, including, for example, ever more abundant evidence that fully modern humans originated in Africa and spread from there, replacing the Neanderthals in Europe and equally archaic people in Asia. With its coverage of both the fossil record and the archaeological record over the 2.5 million years for which both are available, The Human Career demonstrates that human morphology and behavior evolved together. Throughout the book, Klein presents evidence for alternative points of view, but does not hesitate to make his own position clear.
In addition to outlining the broad pattern of human evolution, The Human Career details the kinds of data that support it. For the third edition, Klein has added numerous tables and a fresh citation system designed to enhance readability, especially for students. He has also included more than fifty new illustrations to help lay readers grasp the fossils, artifacts, and other discoveries on which specialists rely. With abundant references and hundreds of images, charts, and diagrams, this new edition is unparalleled in its usefulness for teaching human evolution.
The Bell Curve, The Moral Animal, The Selfish Gene -- these and a host of other books and articles have made a seemingly overwhelming case that our genes determine our behavior. Now, in a new book that is sure to stir controversy, one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists shows why most of those claims of genetic destiny cannot be true, and explains how the arguments often stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution itself. "You can't change human nature," the saying goes. But you can, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich shows us in Human Natures, and in fact, evolution is the story of those changing natures. He makes a compelling case that "human nature" is not a single, unitary entity, but is as diverse as humanity itself, and that changes in culture and other environmental variations play as much of a role in human evolution as genetic changes. We simply don't have enough genes to specify behavior at the level that is often asserted. Never has knowledge of our evolutionary past been more important to our future. Developing intelligent strategies for antibiotic use, pest control, biodiversity protection -- and even for establishing more equitable social arrangements -- all depend on understanding evolution and how it works. A hallmark of Human Natures is the author's ability to convey lucidly that understanding in the course of presenting an engrossing history of our species. Using personal anecdote, vivid example, and stimulating narrative, Ehrlich guides us through the thicket of controversies over what science can and cannot say about the influence of our evolutionary past on everything from race to religion, from sexual orientation to economic development. A major work of synthesis and scholarship, Human Natures gives us the fruit of a lifetime's thought and research on evolution and environment by a modern master of scientific understanding. Ehrlich's innovative vision lights the way to a fresh view of human nature and evolution, bringing insight and clarity to urgent questions of where we are as a species, and where we may be headed.
The Human Person
Steven J. Jensen Catholic University of America Press, 2018 Library of Congress B765.T54J465 2018 | Dewey Decimal 128.092
The Human Person presents a brief introduction to the human mind, the soul, immortality, and free will. While delving into the thought of Thomas Aquinas, it addresses contemporary topics, such as skepticism, mechanism, animal language research, and determinism. Steven J. Jensen probes the primal questions of human nature. Are human beings free or determined? Is the capacity to reason distinctive to human beings or do animals also have some share of reason? Have animals really been taught to use language?
Upon Scheler’s death in 1928, Martin Heidegger remarked that he was the most important force in philosophy at the time. Jose Ortega y Gasset called Scheler "the first man of the philosophical paradise." The Human Place in the Cosmos, the last of his works Scheler completed, is a pivotal piece in the development of his writing as a whole, marking a peculiar shift in his approach and thought. He had been asked to provide an initial sketch of his much larger works on philosophical anthropology and metaphysics--works he was not able to complete because of his early demise.
Frings' new translation of this key work allows us to read and understand Scheler's thought within current philosophical debates and interests. The book addresses two main questions: What is the human being? And what is the place of the human being in the universe? Scheler responds to these questions within contexts of said two projected much larger works but not without reference to scientific research. He covers various levels of being: inorganic reality, organic reality (including plant life and psychological life), all the way up to practical intelligence and the spiritual dimension of human beings, and touching upon the holy.
Negotiating two intertwined levels of being, life-energy ("impulsion") and "spirit," this work marks not only a critical moment in the development of his own philosophy but also a significant contribution to the current discussions of continental and analytic philosophers on the nature of the person.
Humanity: Texts and Contexts is a record of the 2007 Singapore “Building Bridges” seminar, an annual dialogue between Muslim and Christian scholars cosponsored by Georgetown University and the Archbishop of Canterbury. This volume explores three central questions: What does it mean to be human? What is the significance of the diversity that is evident among human beings? And what are the challenges that humans face living within the natural world?
A distinguished group of scholars focuses on the theological responses to each of these questions, drawing on the wealth of material found in both Christian and Islamic scriptures. Part one lays out the three issues of human identity, difference, and guardianship. Part two explores scriptural texts side by side, pairing Christian and Islamic scholars who examine such themes as human dignity, human alienation, human destiny, humanity and gender, humanity and diversity, and humanity and the environment. In addition to contributions from an international cast of outstanding scholars, the book includes an afterword by Archbishop Rowan Williams.
In Search of Nature
Edward O. Wilson Island Press, 1996 Library of Congress BD581.W476 1996 | Dewey Decimal 113
"Perhaps more than any other scientist of our century, Edward O. Wilson has scrutinized animals in their natural settings, tweezing out the dynamics of their social organization, their relationship with their environments, and their behavior, not only for what it tells us about the animals themselves, but for what it can tell us about human nature and our own behavior. He has brought the fascinating and sometimes surprising results of these studies to general readers through a remarkable collection of books, including The Diversity of Life, The Ants, On Human Nature, and Sociobiology. The grace and precision with which he writes of seemingly complex topics has earned him two Pulitzer prizes, and the admiration of scientists and general readers around the world.In Search of Nature presents for the first time a collection of the seminal short writings of Edward O. Wilson, addressing in brief and eminently readable form the themes that have actively engaged this remarkable intellect throughout his career.""The central theme of the essays is that wild nature and human nature are closely interwoven. I argue that the only way to make complete sense of either is by examining both closely and together as products of evolution.... Human behavior is seen not just as the product of recorded history, ten thousand years recent, but of deep history, the combined genetic and cultural changes that created humanity over hundreds of thousands of years. We need this longer view, I believe, not only to understand our species, but more firmly to secure its future.The book is composed of three sections. ""Animal Nature, Human Nature"" ranges from serpents to sharks to sociality in ants. It asks how and why the universal aversion to snakes might have evolved in humans and primates, marvels at the diversity of the world's 350 species of shark and how their adaptive success has affected our conception of the world, and admonishes us to ""be careful of little lives""-to see in the construction of insect social systems ""another grand experiment in evolution for our delectation.""The Patterns of Nature"" probes at the foundation of sociobiology, asking what is the underlying genetic basis of social behavior, and what that means for the future of the human species. Beginning with altruism and aggression, the two poles of behavior, these essays describe how science, like art, adds new information to the accumulated wisdom, establishing new patterns of explanation and inquiry. In ""The Bird of Paradise: The Hunter and the Poet,"" the analytic and synthetic impulses-exemplified in the sciences and the humanities-are called upon to give full definition to the human prospect.""Nature's Abundance"" celebrates biodiversity, explaining its fundamental importance to the continued existence of humanity. From ""The Little Things That Run the World""-invertebrate species that make life possible for everyone and everything else-to the emergent belief of many scientists in the human species' possible innate affinity for other living things, known as biophilia, Wilson sets forth clear and compelling reasons why humans should concern themselves with species loss. ""Is Humanity Suicidal?"" compares the environmentalist's view with that of the exemptionalist, who holds that since humankind is transcendent in intelligence and spirit, our species must have been released from the iron laws of ecology that bind all other species. Not without optimism, Wilson concludes that we are smart enough and have time enough to avoid an environmental catastrophe of civilization-threatening dimensions-if we are willing both to redirect our science and technology and to reconsider our self-image as a species.In Search of Nature is a lively and accessible introduction to the writings of one of the most brilliant scientists of the 20th century. Imaginatively illustrated by noted artist Laura Southworth, it is a book all readers will treasure."
In Infrahumanisms Megan H. Glick considers how conversations surrounding nonhuman life have impacted a broad range of attitudes toward forms of human difference such as race, sexuality, and health. She examines the history of human and nonhuman subjectivity as told through twentieth-century scientific and cultural discourses that include pediatrics, primatology, eugenics, exobiology, and obesity research. Outlining how the category of the human is continuously redefined in relation to the infrahuman—a liminal position of speciation existing between the human and the nonhuman—Glick reads a number of phenomena, from early twentieth-century efforts to define children and higher order primates as liminally human and the postwar cultural fascination with extraterrestrial life to anxieties over AIDS, SARS, and other cross-species diseases. In these cases the efforts to define a universal humanity create the means with which to reinforce notions of human difference and maintain human-nonhuman hierarchies. In foregrounding how evolving definitions of the human reflect shifting attitudes about social inequality, Glick shows how the consideration of nonhuman subjectivities demands a rethinking of long-held truths about biological meaning and difference.
Humans domesticated dogs soon after Neanderthals began to disappear. This alliance between two predator species, Pat Shipman hypothesizes, made possible unprecedented success in hunting large Ice Age mammals—a distinct and ultimately decisive advantage for human invaders at a time when climate change made both humans and Neanderthals vulnerable.
For much of history, strangers were seen as barbarians, seldom as fellow human beings. The notion of common humanity had to be invented. Drawing on global thinkers, Siep Stuurman traces ideas of equality and difference across continents and civilizations, from antiquity to present-day debates about human rights and the “clash of civilizations.”
Man against Mass Society
Gabriel Marcel St. Augustine's Press, 2008 Library of Congress B2430.M253H5813 2008 | Dewey Decimal 128
The central theme of this important book is that we are paying the price of an arrogance that refuses to recognize mystery. The author invites the reader to enter into the argument that he holds with himself on a great number of problems. Written in the early 1950s, Marcel’s discussion of these topics are remarkably contemporary, e.g.:
* Our crisis is a metaphysical, not merely social, one.
* What a man is depends partly on what he thinks he is, and a materialistic philosophy turns men into things.
* Can a man be free except in a free country?
* Stoicism is no longer a workable philosophy because today pressure can be put on the mind as well as on the body.
* Technical progress is not evil in itself, but a technique is a means that, regarded as an end, can become either an idol or an excuse for self-idolatry. State control of scientific research, leading to a concentration on new means of destruction, is a calamity.
* Fanaticism is an opinion that refuses to argue, and so the fanatic is an enemy of truth.
* The kind of unification that science is bringing about today is really an ironing out of differences, but the only valuable kind of unity is one that implies a respect for differences.
* We must beware of thinking in terms of great numbers and so blinding ourselves to the reality of individual suffering. Our philosophical approach to being is made possible only by our practical approach to our neighbor.
* We must encourage the spirit of fraternity and distrust the kind of egalitarianism that is based on envy and resentment.
* No man however humble should feel that he cannot spread the light among his friends. No easy solution is offered, but the author conveys his own faith that ultimately love and intelligence will triumph.
Dance, whether considered as an art form or embodied social practice, as product or process, is a prime subject for cultural analysis. Yet only recently have studies of dance become concerned with the ideological, theoretical, and social meanings of dance practices, performances, and institutions. In Meaning in Motion, Jane C. Desmond brings together the work of critics who have ventured into the boundaries between dance and cultural studies, and thus maps a little-known and rarely explored critical site. Writing from a broad range of perspectives, contributors from disciplines as varied as art history and anthropology, dance history and political science, philosophy and women’s studies chart the questions and challenges that mark this site. How does dance enact or rework social categories of identity? How do meanings change as dance styles cross borders of race, nationality, or class? How do we talk about materiality and motion, sensation and expressivity, kinesthetics and ideology? The authors engage these issues in a variety of contexts: from popular social dances to the experimentation of the avant-garde; from nineteenth-century ballet and contemporary Afro-Brazilian Carnival dance to hip hop, the dance hall, and film; from the nationalist politics of folk dances to the feminist philosophies of modern dance. Giving definition to a new field of study, Meaning in Motion broadens the scope of dance analysis and extends to cultural studies new ways of approaching matters of embodiment, identity, and representation.
Contributors. Ann Cooper Albright, Evan Alderson, Norman Bryson, Cynthia Cohen Bull, Ann Daly, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Susan Foster, Mark Franko, Marianne Goldberg, Amy Koritz, Susan Kozel, Susan Manning, Randy Martin, Angela McRobbie, Kate Ramsey, Anna Scott, Janet Wolff
Considers the Native American abandonment of the South Carolina coast
A prevailing enigma in American archaeology is why vast swaths of land in the Southeast and Southwest were abandoned between AD 1200 and 1500. The most well-known abandonments occurred in the Four Corners and Mimbres areas of the Southwest and the central Mississippi valley in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and in southern Arizona and the Ohio Valley during the fifteenth century. In Megadrought in the Carolinas: The Archaeology of Mississippian Collapse, Abandonment, and Coalescence, John S. Cable demonstrates through the application of innovative ceramic analysis that yet another fifteenth-century abandonment event took place across an area of some 34.5 million acres centered on the South Carolina coast.
Most would agree that these sweeping changes were at least in part the consequence of prolonged droughts associated with a period of global warming known as the Medieval Climatic Anomaly. Cable strengthens this inference by showing that these events correspond exactly with the timing of two different geographic patterns of megadrought as defined by modern climate models.
Cable extends his study by testing the proposition that the former residents of the coastal zone migrated to surrounding interior regions where the effects of drought were less severe. Abundant support for this expectation is found in the archaeology of these regions, including evidence of accelerated population growth, crowding, and increased regional hostilities. Another important implication of immigration is the eventual coalescence of ethnic and/or culturally different social groups and the ultimate transformation of societies into new cultural syntheses. Evidence for this process is not yet well documented in the Southeast, but Cable draws on his familiarity with the drought-related Puebloan intrusions into the Hohokam Core Area of southern Arizona during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to suggest strategies for examining coalescence in the Southeast. The narrative concludes by addressing the broad implications of late prehistoric societal collapse for today’s human-propelled global warming era that portends similar but much more long-lasting consequences.
Plato asked, "How shall a man live?" In this volume, Robert J. McShea offers an important, serious, and controversial answer to that perennial question. In this inquiry into the origins of human values, the author argues that values are based on emotions rather than on reason. The human ability to recall the past, to imagine future consequences of actions, and to be aware simultaneously of present, past, and probable future feelings form the basis of moral judgments. What is truly valuable to humans is a consequence of their species nature; thus, moral theory is the study of that nature. This is what McShea calls the human nature tradition, from "know thyself": to "the noblest study of man is man." Using ethology (studies of animal behavior), the author seeks to remind the reader of the significance of species being to the understanding of all creatures, and thus of ourselves. In viewing moral values as arising from human nature, McShea challenges a number of influential theories-notably, the belief that values are products of culture. Written out of a growing sense that our society finds itself in a moral and social limbo, Morality and Human Nature aurges that we start afresh and calls us to a continual reassessment of mores and social practices in the light of their adaptability to human feeling.
In the years after the Revolutionary War, the fledgling republic of America was viewed by many Europeans as a degenerate backwater, populated by subspecies weak and feeble. Chief among these naysayers was the French Count and world-renowned naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, who wrote that the flora and fauna of America (humans included) were inferior to European specimens.
Thomas Jefferson—author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. president, and ardent naturalist—spent years countering the French conception of American degeneracy. His Notes on Virginia systematically and scientifically dismantled Buffon’s case through a series of tables and equally compelling writing on the nature of his home state. But the book did little to counter the arrogance of the French and hardly satisfied Jefferson’s quest to demonstrate that his young nation was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe. Enter the giant moose.
The American moose, which Jefferson claimed was so enormous a European reindeer could walk under it, became the cornerstone of his defense. Convinced that the sight of such a magnificent beast would cause Buffon to revise his claims, Jefferson had the remains of a seven-foot ungulate shipped first class from New Hampshire to Paris. Unfortunately, Buffon died before he could make any revisions to his Histoire Naturelle, but the legend of the moose makes for a fascinating tale about Jefferson’s passion to prove that American nature deserved prestige.
In Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose, Lee Alan Dugatkin vividly recreates the origin and evolution of the debates about natural history in America and, in so doing, returns the prize moose to its rightful place in American history.
The Natural World as a Philosophical Problem
Jan Patocka, edited by Ivan Chvatík and Lubica Ucnik, translated by Erika Abrams, foreword by Ludwig Landgrebe Northwestern University Press, 2016 Library of Congress BD516.P3713 2016 | Dewey Decimal 113
The first text to critically discuss Edmund Husserl’s concept of the "life-world," The Natural World as a Philosophical Problem reflects Jan Patocka's youthful conversations with the founder of phenomenology and two of his closest disciples, Eugen Fink and Ludwig Landgrebe. Now available in English for the first time, this translation includes an introduction by Landgrebe and two self-critical afterwords added by Patocka in the 1970s. Unique in its extremely broad range of references, the work addresses the views of Russell, Wittgenstein, and Carnap alongside Husserl and Heidegger, in a spirit that considerably broadens the understanding of phenomenology in relation to other twentieth-century trends in philosophy. Even eighty years after first appearing, it is of great value as a general introduction to philosophy, and it is essential reading for students of the history of phenomenology as well as for those desiring a full understanding of Patocka’s contribution to contemporary thought.
Nearly 30 million acres of the Northern Forest stretch across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Within this broad area live roughly a million residents whose lives are intimately associated with the forest ecosystem and whose individual stories are closely linked to the region’s cultural and environmental history. The fourteen engaging essays in Nature and Culture in the Northern Forest effectively explore the relationships among place, work, and community in this complex landscape. Together they serve as a stimulating introduction to the interdisciplinary study of this unique region.
Each of the four sections views through a different lens the interconnections between place and people. The essayists in “Encounters” have their hiking boots on as they focus on personal encounters with flora and fauna of the region. The energizing accounts in “Teaching and Learning” question our assumptions about education and scholarship by proposing invigorating collaborations between teachers and students in ways determined by the land itself, not by the abstractions of pedagogy. With the freshness of Thoreau’s irreverence, the authors in “Rethinking Place” look at key figures in the forest’s literary and cultural development to help us think about the affiliations between place and citizenship. In “Nature as Commodity,” three essayists consider the ways that writers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries thought about nature as a product and, thus, how their conclusions bear on the contemporary retailing of place.
The writers in Nature and Culture in the Northern Forest reveal the rich affinities between a specific place and the literature, thought, and other cultural expressions it has nurtured. Their insightful and stimulating connections exemplify adventurous bioregional thinking that encompasses both natural and cultural realities while staying rooted in the particular landscape of some of the Northeast’s wildest forests and oldest settlements.
In Nature's Wild, Andil Gosine engages with questions of humanism, queer theory, and animality to examine and revise understandings of queer desire in the Caribbean. Surveying colonial law, visual art practices, and contemporary activism, Gosine shows how the very concept of homosexuality in the Caribbean (and in the Americas more broadly) has been overdetermined by a colonially influenced human/animal divide. Gosine refutes this presupposed binary and embraces animality through a series of case studies: a homoerotic game called puhngah, the institution of gender-based dress codes in Guyana, and efforts toward the decriminalization of sodomy in Trinidad and Tobago—including the work of famed activist Colin Robinson, paintings of human animality by Guadeloupean artist Kelly Sinnapah Mary, and Gosine's own artistic practice. In so doing, he troubles the ways in which individual and collective anxieties about “wild natures” have shaped the existence of Caribbean people while calling for a reassessment of what political liberation might look like.
Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award recipient
The zombie apocalypse hasn’t happened—yet—but zombies are all over popular culture. From movies and TV shows to video games and zombie walks, the undead stalk through our collective fantasies. What is it about zombies that exerts such a powerful fascination? In Not Your Average Zombie, Chera Kee offers an innovative answer by looking at zombies that don’t conform to the stereotypes of mindless slaves or flesh-eating cannibals. Zombies who think, who speak, and who feel love can be sympathetic and even politically powerful, she asserts. Kee analyzes zombies in popular culture from 1930s depictions of zombies in voodoo rituals to contemporary film and television, comic books, video games, and fan practices such as zombie walks. She discusses how the zombie has embodied our fears of losing the self through slavery and cannibalism and shows how “extra-ordinary” zombies defy that loss of free will by refusing to be dehumanized. By challenging their masters, falling in love, and leading rebellions, “extra-ordinary” zombies become figures of liberation and resistance. Kee also thoroughly investigates how representations of racial and gendered identities in zombie texts offer opportunities for living people to gain agency over their lives. Not Your Average Zombie thus deepens and broadens our understanding of how media producers and consumers take up and use these undead figures to make political interventions in the world of the living.
One of the foremost religious and social philosophers of the twentieth century, Martin Buber also wrote extensively on sociological subjects, particularly as these affected his philosophical concerns. Collected here, these writings offer essential insights into the human condition as it is expressed in culture and society.
Buber's central focus in his sociological work is the relation between social interaction, or intersubjectivity, and the process of human creativity. Specifically, Buber seeks to define the nature and conditions of creativity, the conditions of authentic intersubjective social relations that nurture creativity in society and culture. He attempts to identify situations favorable to creativity that he believes exist to some extent in all cultures, though their fullest development occurs only rarely.
Buber considers the combination of open dialogue between human and human and a dialogue between man and God to be necessary for the crystallization of the common discourse that is essential for holding a free, just, and open society together.
Important for an understanding of Buber's thought, these writings—touching on education, religion, the state, and charismatic leadership—will be of profound value to students of sociology, philosophy, and religion.
“This is a book about nature and culture,” Eric T. Freyfogle writes, “about our place and plight on earth, and the nagging challenges we face in living on it in ways that might endure.” Challenges, he says, we are clearly failing to meet. Harking back to a key phrase from the essays of eminent American conservationist Aldo Leopold, Our Oldest Task spins together lessons from history and philosophy, the life sciences and politics, economics and cultural studies in a personal, erudite quest to understand how we might live on—and in accord with—the land.
Passionate and pragmatic, extraordinarily well read and eloquent, Freyfogle details a host of forces that have produced our self-defeating ethos of human exceptionalism. It is this outlook, he argues, not a lack of scientific knowledge or inadequate technology, that is the primary cause of our ecological predicament. Seeking to comprehend both the multifaceted complexity of contemporary environmental problems and the zeitgeist as it unfolds, Freyfogle explores such diverse topics as morality, the nature of reality (and the reality of nature), animal welfare, social justice movements, and market politics. The result is a learned and inspiring rallying cry to achieve balance, a call to use our knowledge to more accurately identify the dividing line between living in and on the world and destruction. “To use nature,” Freyfogle writes, “but not to abuse it.”
Motivated by a deeply rooted sense of place and community, Appalachian women have long fought against the damaging effects of industrialization. In this collection of interviews, sociologist Shannon Elizabeth Bell presents the voices of twelve Central Appalachian women, environmental justice activists fighting against mountaintop removal mining and its devastating effects on public health, regional ecology, and community well-being.
Each woman narrates her own personal story of injustice and tells how that experience led her to activism. The interviews--many of them illustrated by the women's "photostories"--describe obstacles, losses, and tragedies. But they also tell of new communities and personal transformations catalyzed through activism. Bell supplements each narrative with careful notes that aid the reader while amplifying the power and flow of the activists' stories. Bell's analysis outlines the relationship between Appalachian women's activism and the gendered responsibilities they feel within their families and communities. Ultimately, Bell argues that these women draw upon a broader "protector identity" that both encompasses and extends the identity of motherhood that has often been associated with grassroots women's activism. As protectors, the women challenge dominant Appalachian gender expectations and guard not only their families but also their homeplaces, their communities, their heritage, and the endangered mountains that surround them.
30% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to organizations fighting for environmental justice in Central Appalachia.
In May 1853, Charles Dickens paid a visit to the “savages at Hyde Park Corner,” an exhibition of thirteen imported Zulus performing cultural rites ranging from songs and dances to a “witch-hunt” and marriage ceremony. Dickens was not the only Londoner intrigued by these “living curiosities”: displayed foreign peoples provided some of the most popular public entertainments of their day. At first, such shows tended to be small-scale entrepreneurial speculations of just a single person or a small group. By the end of the century, performers were being imported by the hundreds and housed in purpose-built “native” villages for months at a time, delighting the crowds and allowing scientists and journalists the opportunity to reflect on racial difference, foreign policy, slavery, missionary work, and empire.
Peoples on Parade provides the first substantial overview of these human exhibitions in nineteenth-century Britain. Sadiah Qureshi considers these shows in their entirety—their production, promotion, management, and performance—to understand why they proved so commercially successful, how they shaped performers’ lives, how they were interpreted by their audiences, and what kinds of lasting influence they may have had on notions of race and empire. Qureshi supports her analysis with diverse visual materials, including promotional ephemera, travel paintings, theatrical scenery, art prints, and photography, and thus contributes to the wider understanding of the relationship between science and visual culture in the nineteenth century.
Through Qureshi’s vibrant telling and stunning images, readers will see how human exhibitions have left behind a lasting legacy both in the formation of early anthropological inquiry and in the creation of broader public attitudes toward racial difference.
The boundaries between human and beast forged a rugged philosophical landscape across early modern England. Spectators gathered in London's Bear Garden to watch the callous and brutal baiting of animals. A wave of "new" scientists performed vivisections on live animals to learn more about the human body.
In Perceiving Animals, the British scholar Erica Fudge traces the dangers and problems of anthropocentrism in texts written from 1558 to 1649. Meticulous examinations of scientific, legal, political, literary, and religious writings offer unique and fascinating depictions of human perceptions about the natural world.
Views carried over from bestiaries--medieval treatises on animals--
posited animals as nonsentient beings whose merits were measured solely by what provisions they afforded humans: food, medicine, clothing, travel, labor, scientific knowledge. Without consciences or faith, animals were deemed far inferior to humans.
While writings from the period asserted an enormous biological superiority, Fudge contends actual human behavior and logic worked, sometimes accidentally, to close the alleged gap. In the Bear Garden, even a man of the lowest social rank had power over a tortured animal, sinking him, though, below the beasts. The beast fable itself fails to show a true understanding of animals, as it merely attributes human characteristics to beasts in an attempt to teach humanist ideals. Scholars and writers continually turned to the animal world for reflection. Despite this, scientists of the period used animals for empirical and medical knowledge, recognizing biological and spiritual similarities but refusing to renege human superiority.
Including an insightful reexamination of Ben Jonson's Volpone and fascinating looks at works by Francis Bacon, Edward Coke, and Richard Overton, among others, Fudge probes issues of animal ownership and biological and spiritual superiority in early modern England that resonate with philosophical quandaries still relevant in contemporary society.
In this culmination of a lifetime's study, Joseph Cropsey examines the crucial relationship between Plato's conception of the nature of the universe and his moral and political thought.
Cropsey interprets seven of Plato's dialogues—Theaetetus, Euthyphro, Sophist, Statesman, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo—in light of their dramatic consecutiveness and thus as a conceptual and dramatic whole. The cosmos depicted by Plato in these dialogues, Cropsey argues, is often unreasonable, and populated by human beings unaided by gods and dealt with equivocally by nature. Masterfully leading the reader through the seven scenes of the drama, Cropsey shows how they are, to an astonishing degree, concerned with the resources available to help us survive in such a world.
This is a world—and a Plato—quite at odds with most other portraits. Much more than a summary of Plato's thinking, this book is an eloquent, sometimes amusing, often moving guide to the paradoxes and insights of Plato's philosophy.
The Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona is a peer-reviewed monograph series sponsored by the School of Anthropology. Established in 1959, the series publishes archaeological and ethnographic papers that use contemporary method and theory to investigate problems of anthropological importance in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and related areas.
"Where humanists saw themselves as distinct beings in an antagonistic relationship with their surroundings, posthumans regard their own being as embodied in an extended technological world."
Synthetic creativity, organic computers, genetic modification, intelligent machines--such ideas are deeply challenging to many of our traditional assumptions about human uniqueness and superiority. But, ironically, it is our very capacity for technological invention that has secured us so dominant a position in the world which may lead ultimately to (as some have put it) 'The End of Man'. If we are really capable of creating entities that exceed our own skills and intellect then the consequences for humanity are almost inconceivable. Nevertheless, we must now face up to the possibility that attributes like intelligence and consciousness may be synthesised in non-human entities--perhaps within our lifetime. Would such entities have human-like emotions; would they have a sense of their own being?
The Posthuman Condition argues that such questions are difficult to tackle given the concepts of human existence that we have inherited from humanism, many of which can no longer be sustained. New theories about nature and the operation of the universe arising from sophisticated computer modelling are starting to demonstrate the profound interconnections between all things in reality where previously we had seen only separations. This has implications for traditional views of the human condition, consciousness, the way we look at art, and for some of the oldest problems in philosophy.
First published in the 1990s, this important text has been completely revised by the author with the addition of new sections and illustrations.
Early humans did not simply drift northward from their African origins as their abilities to cope with cooler climates evolved. The initial settlement of places like Europe and northern Asia, as well as the later movement into the Arctic and the Americas, actually occurred in relatively rapid bursts of expansion. A Prehistory of the North is the first full-length study to tell the complex story, spanning almost two million years, of how humans inhabited some of the coldest places on earth.
In an account rich with illustrations, John Hoffecker traces the history of anatomical adaptations, diet modifications, and technological developments, such as clothing and shelter, which allowed humans the continued ability to push the boundaries of their habitation. The book concludes by showing how in the last few thousand years, peoples living in the circumpolar zone—with the exception of western and central Siberia—developed a thriving maritime economy.
Written in nontechnical language, A Prehistory of the North provides compelling new insights and valuable information for professionals and students.
Marianna Torgovnick's Primitive Passions investigates Westerners' profound attraction to cultures that we call "primitive." Torgovnick explores the stories of Carl Jung, Isak Dinesen, D. H. Lawrence, and Georgia O'Keefe and the ways they used the primitive as a medium for soul-searching and personal fulfillment. Brilliantly linking literature, art, psychology, and cultural studies, Primitive Passions provides insight into our very notion of the exotic.
"Primitive Passions intends to provoke thought, not to tell you what you already know and for that reason alone it's extraordinary."—Walter Kendrick, New York Times Book Review
"A powerfully argued, impassioned, and intelligent exploration of the 'primitive' in our culture and in ourselves. Like Marianna Torgovnick's previous work, it is certain to be much discussed and provocative."—Joyce Carol Oates
"An inspiring effort to bring gender to bear on matters of race, ethnic identity, and spirituality."—Susan Gubar
"A fascinating, wide-ranging and provocative tour of twentieth century Western culture."—Cynthia D. Schrager, Women's Review of Books
When many scholars are asked about early human settlement in the Americas, they might point to a handful of archaeological sites as evidence. Yet the process was not a simple one, and today there is no consistent argument favoring a particular scenario for the peopling of the New World.
This book approaches the human settlement of the Americas from a biogeographical perspective in order to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of this unique event. It considers many of the questions that continue to surround the peopling of the Western Hemisphere, focusing not on sites, dates, and artifacts but rather on theories and models that attempt to explain how the colonization occurred.
Unlike other studies, this book draws on a wide range of disciplines—archaeology, human genetics and osteology, linguistics, ethnology, and ecology—to present the big picture of this migration. Its wide-ranging content considers who the Pleistocene settlers were and where they came from, their likely routes of migration, and the ecological role of these pioneers and the consequences of colonization. Comprehensive in both geographic and topical coverage, the contributions include an explanation of how the first inhabitants could have spread across North America within several centuries, the most comprehensive review of new mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome data relating to the colonization, and a critique of recent linguistic theories.
Although the authors lean toward a conservative rather than an extreme chronology, this volume goes beyond the simplistic emphasis on dating that has dominated the debate so far to a concern with late Pleistocene forager adaptations and how foragers may have coped with a wide range of environmental and ecological factors. It offers researchers in this exciting field the most complete summary of current knowledge and provides non-specialists and general readers with new answers to the questions surrounding the origins of the first Americans.
Archaeologists have long encountered evidence of natural disasters through excavation and stratigraphy. In Surviving Sudden Environmental Change, case studies examine how eight different past human communities-ranging from Arctic to equatorial regions, from tropical rainforests to desert interiors, and from deep prehistory to living memory-faced and coped with such dangers.
Many disasters originate from a force of nature, such as an earthquake, cyclone, tsunami, volcanic eruption, drought, or flood. But that is only half of the story; decisions of people and their particular cultural lifeways are the rest. Sociocultural factors are essential in understanding risk, impact, resilience, reactions, and recoveries from massive sudden environmental changes. By using deep-time perspectives provided by interdisciplinary approaches, this book provides a rich temporal background to the human experience of environmental hazards and disasters. In addition, each chapter is followed by an abstract summarizing the important implications for today's management practices and providing recommendations for policy makers. Publication supported in part by the National Science Foundation.
“To Love the Wind and the Rain” is a groundbreaking and vivid analysis of the relationship between African Americans and the environment in U.S. history. It focuses on three major themes: African Americans in the rural environment, African Americans in the urban and suburban environments, and African Americans and the notion of environmental justice. Meticulously researched, the essays cover subjects including slavery, hunting, gardening, religion, the turpentine industry, outdoor recreation, women, and politics. “To Love the Wind and the Rain” will serve as an excellent foundation for future studies in African American environmental history.
Valerie P Cohen University of Nevada Press, 2017 Library of Congress NC139.C584A4 2017 | Dewey Decimal 741.6092
Tree Lines unites striking ink drawings of high-altitude pine trees with poetic vignettes about how people interact with mountain environments. The drawings and text work together to form a direct artistic encounter with timberline conifers. The husband and wife team of Valerie and Michael Cohen employ a unique process whereby she draws in isolation, gives him her drawings, and he then writes whatever he’s inspired to create. Neither offers the other any kind of feedback or instruction. The result is an accessible and deeply engaging work that is also extremely well researched; the Cohens bring a lifetime of scholarship in literature, history, and the environment to this work.
The drawings are black-and-white, pen-and-ink representations of high alpine ecosystems. The prose is stripped bare, abbreviated in an epigrammatic style that is poetic and spontaneous. Trees represented here are the Western Juniper or Sierra Juniper, the Limber, and the Bristlecone Pine—three species of long-lived, slow-growing conifers that grow across the Great Basin. While they represent only a small portion of the vegetative culture high in the western mountains, the Cohens use representation as abstraction as is utilized by writers and artists to convey a unique kind of microcosm of our natural environment. This book compares to such classics as Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, and Berger’s Ways of Seeing, which open up lines of observation, analysis, and art for a new generation of readers.
Despite a half century of attempts by social scientists to compare frontiers around the world, the study of these regions is still closely associated with the nineteenth-century American West and the work of Frederick Jackson Turner. As a result, the very concept of the frontier is bound up in Victorian notions of manifest destiny and rugged individualism. The frontier, it would seem, has been tamed.
This book seeks to open a new debate about the processes of frontier history in a variety of cultural contexts, untaming the frontier as an analytic concept, and releasing it in a range of unfamiliar settings. Drawing on examples from over four millennia, it shows that, throughout history, societies have been formed and transformed in relation to their frontiers, and that no one historical case represents the normal or typical frontier pattern.
The contributors—historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists—present numerous examples of the frontier as a shifting zone of innovation and recombination through which cultural materials from many sources have been unpredictably channeled and transformed. At the same time, they reveal recurring processes of frontier history that enable world-historical comparison: the emergence of the frontier in relation to a core area; the mutually structuring interactions between frontier and core; and the development of social exchange, merger, or conflict between previously separate populations brought together on the frontier.
Any frontier situation has many dimensions, and each of the chapters highlights one or more of these, from the physical and ideological aspects of Egypt’s Nubian frontier to the military and cultural components of Inka outposts in Bolivia to the shifting agrarian, religious, and political boundaries in Bengal. They explore cases in which the centripetal forces at work in frontier zones have resulted in cultural hybridization or “creolization,” and in some instances show how satellite settlements on the frontiers of core polities themselves develop into new core polities. Each of the chapters suggests that frontiers are shaped in critical ways by topography, climate, vegetation, and the availability of water and other strategic resources, and most also consider cases of population shifts within or through a frontier zone.
As these studies reveal, transnationalism in today’s world can best be understood as an extension of frontier processes that have developed over thousands of years. This book’s interdisciplinary perspective challenges readers to look beyond their own fields of interest to reconsider the true nature and meaning of frontiers.
In his powerful memoir Where the Wind Dreams of Staying, Eric Dieterle captures the emotional storms of a boy, and then a man, who seeks meaning in a place, or a place with meaning. His restless search for purpose and identity in the American West moves through cycles of success and failure, love and loss.
Dieterle’s journey leads from the plateaus of eastern Washington through the landscapes of seven states, ending in the shadow of the San Francisco peaks in northern Arizona. In a series of interwoven essays, readers will find rich, detailed explorations of western landscapes, balanced with stories of personal reflection, determination, doubt, and fulfillment. Along the way, Dieterle grapples with anxiety and depression, substance abuse, and failed relationships. The interior life of the author is tightly bound to the external landscapes, ecosystems, and ecologies, so that person and place become lost in one another.
Ultimately a story of resilience, Where the Wind Dreams of Staying is a lyrical tribute to the richly varied landscapes and lifestyles of the inland West. It will be welcomed by readers of environmental literature and personal memoir, and anyone who has struggled against the odds in pursuit of a balanced life.
Some parks, preserves, and other natural areas serve people well; others are disappointing. Successful design and management requires knowledge of both people and environments.With People in Mind explores how to design and manage areas of "everyday nature" -- parks and open spaces, corporate grounds, vacant lots and backyard gardens, fields and forests -- in ways that are beneficial to and appreciated by humans. Rachel Kaplan and Stephen Kaplan, leading researchers in the field of environmental psychology, along with Robert Ryan, a landscape architect and urban planner, provide a conceptual framework for considering the human dimensions of natural areas and offer a fresh perspective on the subject. The authors examine.physical aspects of natural settings that enhance preference and reduce fear ways to facilitate way-finding how to create restorative settings that allow people to recover from the stress of daily demands landscape elements that are particularly important to human needs techniques for obtaining useful public input
The way we talk about living beings can raise or lower their perceived value. Consider the pro-life strategy of calling a fetus a child, thereby effectively promoting the value of fetal life. In the opposite direction, calling a Pakistani child killed by a US drone strike collateral damage can implicitly demote the value of that child’s life. Allison L. Rowland’s Zoetropes and the Politics of Humanhood looks at such discursive practices—providing the first systematic account of how transvaluations like these operate in public discourse and lurk at the edges of all language.
Building on the necropolitical concept that we are constantly parsing populations into worthy lives, subhuman lives, and lives sentenced to death, Rowland’s study focuses specifically at zoetropes—the rhetorical devices and figures that result in such transvaluations. Through a series of case studies, including microbial life (at the American Gut Project), fetal life (at the National Memorial for the Unborn), and vital human life (at two of the nation’s premier fitness centers)—and in conversation with cutting-edge theories of race, gender, sexuality, and disability—this book brings to light the discursive practices that set the terms for inclusion into humanhood and make us who we are.