"In order to accept the enormous responsibility that comes of being in the world, we must first conceive, in spite of all the obstacles, the state of actually being the world." It is for this reason that John R. Campbell came to the Klamath marshes, a wetland in southern Oregon formed by three ancient, shallow lakes.
Absence and Light is Campbell's account of his exploration of the marshes and a meditation on the world he found there, on his growing understanding of the physical, emotional, moral, and aesthetic meaning of that world, on his own growth as a man. Through Campbell's eyes, we observe the stirring and astonishing beauty of the marshes and their creatures, and the utter poignancy of their fragility before the heedless ambitions of humankind.
This is nature writing at its most profound and moving, writing that in examining and defining the world of nature helps us to understand the very complicated and contradictory realities of being human. Campbell's luminous descriptions and mystical insights will long linger in the reader's memory.
In African Ecomedia, Cajetan Iheka examines the ecological footprint of media in Africa alongside the representation of environmental issues in visual culture. Iheka shows how, through visual media such as film, photography, and sculpture, African artists deliver a unique perspective on the socioecological costs of media production, from mineral and oil extraction to the politics of animal conservation. Among other works, he examines Pieter Hugo's photography of electronic waste recycling in Ghana and Idrissou Mora-Kpai's documentary on the deleterious consequences of uranium mining in Niger. These works highlight not only the exploitation of African workers and the vast scope of environmental degradation but also the resourcefulness and creativity of African media makers. They point to the unsustainability of current practices while acknowledging our planet's finite natural resources. In foregrounding Africa's centrality to the production and disposal of media technology, Iheka shows the important place visual media has in raising awareness of and documenting ecological disaster even as it remains complicit in it.
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.
Against Ecological Sovereignty is a passionate defense of radical ecology that speaks directly to current debates concerning the nature, and dangers, of sovereign power. Engaging the work of Bataille, Arendt, Levinas, Nancy, and Agamben, among others, Mick Smith reconnects the political critique of sovereign power with ecological considerations, arguing that ethical and political responsibilities for the consequences of our actions do not end with those defined as human.
Against Ecological Sovereignty is the first book to turn Agamben’s analysis of sovereignty and biopolitics toward an investigation of ecological concerns. In doing so it exposes limits to that thought, maintaining that the increasingly widespread biopolitical management of human populations has an unrecognized ecological analogue—reducing nature to a “resource” for human projects. Smith contends that a radical ecological politics must resist both the depoliticizing exercise of sovereign power and the pervasive spread of biopolitics in order to reveal new possibilities for creating healthy human and nonhuman communities.
Presenting a stinging critique of human claims to sovereignty over the natural world, Smith proposes an alternative way to conceive of posthumanist ecological communities—one that recognizes the utter singularity of the beings in them.
Far into the Atlantic Ocean, the outflow from the Amazon River creates a "sweet sea" of fresh water. At the river's mouth, a vast delta of river channels and marshes, floodplain and upland forests, open and scrub savannas, floating meadows, and mangrove swamps hosts an astonishingly diverse assemblage of plant and animal life. So rich is this biological treasure house that early European explorers deemed it inexhaustible.
In this highly readable book, Nigel Smith explores how human use of the Amazon estuary's natural resources has been affected by technological change, rapid urban growth, and accelerated market integration. Avoiding alarmist rhetoric, he shows how human intervention in the estuary has actually diversified agriculture and helped save floodplain forests from wanton destruction. His findings underscore the importance of understanding the history of land use and the ecological knowledge of local people when formulating development and conservation policies. The book will be of interest to everyone concerned with the fate of tropical forests, conserving biodiversity, and developing natural resources in a sustainable manner.
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.
Amazonia has long been a focus of debate about the impact of the tropical rain forest environment on indigenous cultural development. This edited volume draws on the subdisciplines of anthropology to present an integrated perspective of Amazonian studies. The contributors address transformations of native societies as a result of their interaction with Western civilization from initial contact to the present day, demonstrating that the pre- and postcontact characteristics of these societies display differences that until now have been little recognized.
Amazonian Anthropology: Strategy for a New Synthesis, Anna C. Roosevelt
The Ancient Amerindian Polities of the Amazon, Orinoco and Atlantic Coast: A Preliminary Analysis of Their Passage from Antiquity to Extinction, Neil Lancelot Whitehead
The Impact of Conquest on Contemporary Indigenous Peoples of the Guiana Shield: The System of Orinoco Regional Interdependence, Nelly Arvelo-Jiménez and Horacio Biord
Social Organization and Political Power in the Amazon Floodplain: The Ethnohistorical Sources, Antonio Porro
The Evidence for the Nature of the Process of Indigenous Deculturation and Destabilization in the Amazon Region in the Last 300 Years: Preliminary Data, Adélia Engrácia de Oliveira
Health and Demography of Native Amazonians: Historical Perspective and Current Status, Warren M. Hern
Diet and Nutritional Status of Amazonian Peoples, Darna L. Dufour
Hunting and Fishing in Amazonia: Hold the Answers, What are the Questions?, Stephen Beckerman
Homeostasis as a Cultural System: The Jivaro Case, Philippe Descola
Farming, Feuding, and Female Status: The Achuara Case, Pita Kelekna
Subsistence Strategy, Social Organization, and Warfare in Central Brazil in the Context of European Penetration, Nancy M. Flowers
Environmental and Social Implications of Pre- and Post-Contact Situations on Brazilian Indians: The Kayapo and a New Amazonian Synthesis, Darrell Addison Posey
Beyond Resistance: A Comparative Study of Utopian Renewal in Amazonia, Michael F. Brown
The Eastern Bororo Seen from an Archaeological Perspective, Irmhilde Wüst
Genetic Relatedness and Language Distributions in Amazonia, Harriet E. Manelis Klein
Language, Culture, and Environment: Tup¡-Guaran¡ Plant Names Over Time, William Balée and Denny Moore
Becoming Indian: The Politics of Tukanoan Ethnicity, Jean E. Jackson
In Animate Planet Kath Weston shows how new intimacies between humans, animals, and their surroundings are emerging as people attempt to understand how the high-tech ecologically damaged world they have made is remaking them, one synthetic chemical, radioactive isotope, and megastorm at a time. Visceral sensations, she finds, are vital to this process, which yields a new animism in which humans and "the environment" become thoroughly entangled. In case studies on food, water, energy, and climate from the United States, India, and Japan, Weston approaches the new animism as both a symptom of our times and an analytic with the potential to open paths to new and forgotten ways of living.
Anthropos and the Material
Penny Harvey, Christian Krohn-Hansen, and Knut Nustad, editors Duke University Press, 2019 Library of Congress GF75.A645 2019
The destructive effects of modern industrial societies have shaped the planet in such profound ways that many argue for the existence of a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene. This claim brings into relief a set of challenges that have deep implications for how relations between the human, the material, and the political affect contemporary social worlds. The contributors to Anthropos and the Material examine these challenges by questioning and complicating long-held understandings of the divide between humans and things. They present ethnographic case studies from across the globe, addressing myriad topics that range from labor, economics, and colonialism to technology, culture, the environment, agency, and diversity. In foregrounding the importance of connecting natural and social histories, the instability and intangibility of the material, and the ways in which the lively encounters between the human and the nonhuman challenge conceptions of liberal humanism, the contributors point to new understandings of the capacities of people and things to act, transform, and adapt to a changing world.
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.
Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains combines history, anthropology, archaeology, and geography to take a closer look at the relationships between land and people in this unique North American region.
Focusing on long-term change, this book considers ethnographic literature, archaeological evidence, and environmental data spanning thousands of years of human presence to understand human perception and construction of landscape. The contributors offer cohesive and synthetic studies emphasizing hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers.
Using landscape as both reality and metaphor, Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains explores the different and changing ways that people interacted with place in this transitional zone between the Rocky Mountains and the eastern prairies.
The contemporary archaeologists working in this small area have chosen diverse approaches to understand the past and its relationship to the present. Through these ten case studies, this variety is highlighted but leads to a common theme - that the High Plains contains important locales to which people, over generations or millennia, return. Providing both data and theory on a region that has not previously received much attention from archaeologists, especially compared with other regions in North America, this volume is a welcome addition to the literature. Contributors:
o Paul Burnett
o Oskar Burger
o Minette C. Church
o Philip Duke
o Kevin Gilmore
o Eileen Johnson
o Mark D. Mitchell
o Michael R. Peterson
o Lawrence Todd
Water management, soil conservation, sustainable animal husbandry . . . because such socio-environmental challenges have been faced throughout history, lessons from the past can often inform modern policy. In this book, case studies from a wide range of times and places reveal how archaeology can contribute to a better understanding of humans' relation to the environment.
The Archaeology of Environmental Change shows that the challenges facing humanity today, in terms of causing and reacting to environmental change, can be better approached through an attempt to understand how societies in the past dealt with similar circumstances. The contributors draw on archaeological research in multiple regions—North America, Mesoamerica, Europe, the Near East, and Africa—from time periods spanning the Holocene, and from environments ranging from tropical forest to desert.
Through such examples as environmental degradation in Transjordan, wildlife management in East Africa, and soil conservation among the ancient Maya, they demonstrate the negative effects humans have had on their environments and how societies in the past dealt with these same problems. All call into question and ultimately refute popular notions of a simple cause-and-effect relationship between people and their environment, and reject the notion of people as either hapless victims of unstoppable forces or inevitable destroyers of natural harmony.
These contributions show that by examining long-term trajectories of socio-natural relationships we can better define concepts such as sustainability, land degradation, and conservation—and that gaining a more accurate and complete understanding of these connections is essential for evaluating current theories and models of environmental degradation and conservation. Their insights demonstrate that to understand the present environment and to manage landscapes for the future, we must consider the historical record of the total sweep of anthropogenic environmental change.
In the broadest sense this book is concerned with describing and explaining how particular places contain the key elements necessary for understanding the social worlds constructed, maintained, and modified by those who once inhabited them. This is achieved through the investigation of biographical, topographic, geopolitical, ideological, cosmological, and mnemonic facets of place, beginning with processes of place making and continuing with the development of networks among and between places and broader landscapes.
Diverse spatial and temporal contexts in two culture areas--Mesoamerica and the Greater Southwest--serve as backdrops for nine chapters in which fourteen contributors show how place is an ideal starting point to begin unraveling the human past. Several authors further address the enduring significance of places of the past for contemporary peoples. Among the many strengths of this volume is the careful way in which powerful concepts, diverse lines of thought, and empirical models are integrated to reveal the multiple facets of meaningful places, and to illustrate ways in which places may be approached archaeologically, theoretically, and culturally. Ultimately, the book’s contributors champion the notion that place is a valid and useful analytical unit for describing, reconstructing, interpreting, and explaining the form, structure, and temporality of the meanings humans ascribe to their environment.
The common view of indigenous Arctic cultures, even among scholarly observers, has long been one of communities continually in ecological harmony with their natural environment. In Arctic Adaptations, Igor Krupnik dismisses the textbook notion of traditional societies as static. Using information from years of field research, interviews with native Siberians, and archaeological site visits, Krupnik demonstrates that these societies are characterized not by stability but by dynamism and significant evolutionary breaks. Their apparent state of ecological harmony is, in fact, a conscious survival strategy resulting from "a prolonged and therefore successful process of human adaptation in one of the most extreme inhabited environments in the world." As their physical and cultural environment has changed—fluctuating reindeer and caribou herds, unpredictable weather patterns, introduction of firearms and better seacraft—Arctic communities have adapted by developing distinctive subsistence practices, social structures, and ethics regarding utilization of natural resources. Krupnik's pioneering work represents a dynamic marriage of ethnography and ecology, and makes accessible to Western scholars crucial findings and archival data previously unavailable because of political and language barriers.
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.”