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a203-11f-11-Foraging - Introduction to Cultural...

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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Class 11 Making a living: foraging Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - Subsistence - “How people get their groceries” - subsistence is fundamental to understanding everything else about a culture - in cultural materialists’ terms, because subsistence is a major part of the infrastructure of any society - as such, it influences or determines much of the rest of society - in more general anthropological terms, because culture is integrated - subsistence is inextricably linked to everything else - as a result, anthropologists can rarely, if ever, discuss subsistence without bringing in other aspects of culture - the reading by Lee illustrate this - he has to address gender roles, because the tools and activities of men and women are different - he discusses sharing of food, exchange of arrows, ownership of meat, etc. - he can’t discuss hunting practices without dealing with “insulting the meat” and Ju/’hoansi ideas about young people, aggression, and status - studying subsistence leads to broader questions - why do different societies use such different subsistence strategies? - why have subsistence strategies changed over time? - how does using a given subsistence strategy affect other aspects of society? - what are the effects of shifting from one subsistence strategy to another? - General types of subsistence strategies - Foraging = hunting and gathering - living on wild resources without intentionally altering the landscape - includes maritime foragers: people who depend on fish and shellfish - Agriculture = farming - Activities to artificially increase plant food yields (sowing seeds, clearing forest, weeding, diverting water, fertilizing, etc.) - some people distinguish between agriculture and horticulture, but we won’t bother with that here - Pastoralism = herding - depending primarily on herds of domesticated animals - pastoralists travel with their herds to pasture areas, rather than bringing food to them - Agropastoralism - depending on a mix of agriculture and pastoralism - typically with one or more fixed settlements - often plus pastures to which the animals are sent with some group members seasonally - our subsistence base is really none of the above - strictly speaking, it still rests on agropastoralism
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Intro to Cultural Anthro F 2011 / Owen: Foraging p. 2 - but the practices are so different from subsistence agropastoralism that it would be misleading to use the same term - and besides, most people get their own subsistence in ways far removed from agropastoral production - Wage labor system - people work for pay, rather than producing their own subsistence goods - many are paid for tasks that do not produce subsistence goods at all - then exchange that income for subsistence goods produced by others for exchange - These types oversimplify reality - people mix and vary these strategies - most societies don’t fit perfectly into these clear, well-defined types - but these types give us a shorthand for the general ways people live -
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