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a203-11f-12-AgriculturePastoralism - Introduction to...

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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Class 12 Making a living: agriculture and pastoralism Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - Last time, we looked at a foraging subsistence strategy - This time, we will continue with - Agriculture = farming - Activities to artificially increase plant food yields - clearing forest, sowing seeds, weeding, diverting water, fertilizing, etc. - Agriculture = farming - shifting agriculture = slash and burn = swidden - clear, usually burn off an area - plant amid the debris - grow one or several crops until productivity declines due to soil exhaustion, pests, entrenched weeds, etc. - abandon the field, leave it to regenerate for many years - sometimes these almost-synonymous terms are used to indicate different emphases - but we will just treat them as all meaning about the same thing - fallow : the resting period between periods of agricultural use of a plot of land - in swidden agriculture, fallow is very long, typically one to several decades - intensification : putting more labor in per acre of land to get more crop production out per acre - plowing, weeding, irrigating, fertilizing, fencing, etc. - reducing the fallow period is another way to put more labor into the land during a given span of years; this is intensification, too - plus, the shorter the fallow, the more fertilizing, weeding, etc. you have to do to keep the yield from dropping - agriculture that uses such methods is often called intensive agriculture - as in virtually all farming in the US - the opposite of “intensive” is extensive - using more land, but less intensively - typically with less labor input - typically with longer fallows - so swidden agriculture an extensive approach, compared to irrigating fields, which is more intensive - note that here, “extensive” agriculture does NOT mean “a lot of agriculture”, or “advanced agriculture” - it means agriculture that requires a lot of land, but does not work it very hard - intensification is a matter of degree; it falls along a spectrum - agriculture may be extensive, slightly intensified, moderately intensive, very intensive… depending on the amount of labor input per acre of land - which is better? - It is a trade-off between
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Intro to Cultural Anthro F 2011 / Owen: Agriculture and pastoralism p. 2 - not working very hard, but needing a lot of land (extensive) - like foragers do - you can only do this where there are few people on a lot of land - working harder, but needing less land per person (intensive) - farming, and intensifying - each person has to work harder when the population rises and there is limited land - Example of farming: Pospisil extracts about the Kapauku Papuans of Papua New Guinea - also called Ekari or Ekagi - Kapauku is the language they speak - they live in the Indonesian province of Papua, formerly Irian Jaya - mountainous tropical forest with rivers and lakes - first contact with European outsiders: 1938 - sweet potato is the staple: 90% of total farmland - pigs are essential for wealth, marriage, status, political and legal power - and are fed on sweet potatoes, too -
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