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A Brief History of the World
The real test: Managing Spaceship Earth. (
to a program that shows a realtime model of the universe.)
Sagan and the Pale Blue Dot
State of the Spaceship Today:
Eventually, we want to understand how we arrived at this state of affairs, and what we can do about it.
We're starting at the "Bottom of the Barrel" (the barrel model of culture)
Infrastructure: "the economic base" includes:
material equipment used to make a living (technology)
Approach: Cultural Materialism
--roughly 6,000 different ways people make a living
Five Main Subsistence Patterns
Foraging (Hunter-Gatherers, Pedestrian and Aquatic)
Pastoralism (Raising Domesticated Animals)
Agriculture (More Intensive than Horticulture)
Characteristics of Foragers (Hunter-Gatherers)
Until 10,000 years ago, all humans were foragers (Cavemen are usually portrayed as brude men, stupid, strong, etc.)
90% of all people who ever lived were foragers.
99% of all human history we have been foragers.
They tend to live in small bands (less than 100 people) !Kung Bushman Video; get water they collect dew drops from leaves or grass
*Shows how people who live in a very scarce environment can live as foragers
They are mostly egalitarian (equal).
They often live long, healthy lives
Marshall Sahlins calls them "The Original Affluent Society" (Story of Harvard Graduate and Mexican fisherman)
Affluence is basically being able to meet your needs
Inuit Eskimo video;
- Whenever something is killed, they view it as the animal "giving itself" to them.
-Hunters do not eat first kill to show that they hunt for others.
The following history is drawn from the ideas of Jared Diamond.
His book ("
Guns, Germs, and Steel
") focuses on the theory of the origins of inequality.
We will continue to discuss his ideas throughout the semester. If you are interested in these ideas, watch the excellent PBS documentary based on his book: Guns, Germs and Steel:
This is Part One of Three -
Here is another short video of one of his lectures discussing these topics:
The Neolithic Revolution: 10,000 years ago
--profound cultural changes that come with domestication of plants and animals
--more permanent and larger settlements
--division of labor
--more elaborate governments (chiefdoms, states)
culture by 8,000 years
--happened in about 5 places near the same time
One significant difference between agriculture and horticulture is the domestication of animals. Diamond points out that there are 13 large domesticated mammals in Eurasia and just 1 (the llama) in the Americas. Why? I showed a video in class from Guns, Germs, and Steel that gave Diamond's explanation.
In order to be domesticated,animals must:
have a diet that humans can easily supply (no carnivores)
have a rapid growth rate
breed in captivity
be generally easy-going and easy to manage
have a social structure in which most will follow the alpha animal
not panic when fenced in
The Spread of Cultivation
spread east to west easily
difficult to spread north and south because of different climates
profound cultural changes that come with domestication of plants and animals 10,000 years ago
more permanent and larger settlements - had to stay near water
division of labor
more elaborate governments (chiefdoms, states)
By the year 1450, the different patterns of subsistence were distributed like this:
1. Most agriculture developed along the Tropic of Cancer. (yellow)
2. Draft animals and other technologies spread east-west through the wide continent. (yellow box)
3. Horticulture thrives in fertile tropical areas. (green)
4. Pastoralism develops on the edge of food cultivation areas ...
or where food cultivation thrived but now fails. (orange)
5. Over time, foraging has been pushed into sparse environments. (red)
World Simulation: Based on this, how would your culture survive in the year 1450?
--Subsistence patter in which most needs are met through use of machines often powered by fossil fuels
--The "Industrial Revolution" began about 240 years ago and "picked up steam" about 150 years ago
Trends from Foraging to Industrialism
greater production, surplus, and wealth
greater diversity of products
greater diversity of jobs
... but ...
increased social inequality
increased economic inequality
increased social conflict
increased labor demand
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Sep 27 2010, 1:20 AM EDT
Thread started: Sep 27 2010, 1:20 AM EDT
I've found a power point entitled "Making a Living" that distinguishes the 5 adaptive strategies and what makes up each category.
The focus of a culture is its means for survival. If we base assumptions off of this statement you begin to see why the foraging to industrialism trends have occurred. As cultivation began to spread the emphasis on equality and the need for nature starts to decrease as individual importance and a strong need for diversity begins to increase. This is because many cultures no longer need an abundance of natural elements to sustain life and instead have a need for wealth and rapid production.
This is an interesting article I found about a modern day struggle in Africa concerning the varying of subexistance patterns between countries.
found this valuable.
Do you find this valuable?
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Assignments and Course Goals
Virtual Fieldwork in New Guinea lecture
Introducing the Nacirema
Race and Structural Racism
Introducing the World Simulation
Language & Gesture
Language & Worldview
Enculturation & Gender
Ethnography of the Future
A Brief History of the World
Exchange & Coca-Colanization
Sex, Love, and Marriage Lecture
Beauty, Family, and Household
Political Organization Lecture
Culture and the Supernatural
The Matrix and World Religions
Art & Music Lecture
Culture Change & Globalization
We are what we eat
Save the World Lecture
Extra Credit Guidelines
how were the rulers chosen in inca
how were the rulers chosen
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