Ethnic Groups in Swat

Ethnic Groups in Swat - described in terms of environments...

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Ethnic Groups in Swat (Barth 1956) Barth's classic analysis of complex ethnic interaction in Northern Pakistan is good illustration of how niche theory can illuminate ethnic diversity (Fredrik Barth = renowned Norwegian social anthropologist; his interests include decision-making, ethnic differentiation and boundary maintenance, and sociocultural change, not ecological anthro per se) Barth found 3 distinct ethnic groups living in river valleys and surrounding mountains. of Swat, N. Pakistan [see TABLE and MAP ] 1) Kohistanis = seasonal agriculture + herding; oldest inhabitants 2) Pathans = sedentary agriculturalists; entered area 1000-1600 AD 3) Gujars = nomadic herders; entered in last 400 yrs Environment = very mountainous region (18,000 ft peaks) dissected by steep gorges in higher areas, broader alluvial valleys in lower areas Clearly the distribution of these 3 groups and their relations to each other cannot be
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Unformatted text preview: described in terms of environments per se, nor can they be reduced to military/political strength (since the Pathan are clearly superior, but yet do not displace the Kohistani in the upland areas, etc.) Complex patterns of ethnic distribution and interaction thus can be accounted for in terms of niche theory -- in particular, as results of a) competitive exclusion; and b) niche divergence to reduce overlap → coexistence Overall, the Swat example demonstrates: 1) complexity of human niche specialization 2) ability for diff. cultures to co-exist via niche partitioning, as if they were different "species" 3) major reason for failure of env. determinism: two or more societies can inhabit same env. (at same time or sequentially) via differences in their niche (specialized ways of utilizing environment to make living)...
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