Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology

Author: William L. Balée
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231135629
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Like the cracking of the genetic code and the creation of the atomic bomb, the discovery of how the brain's neurons work is one of the fundamental scientific developments of the twentieth century. The discovery of neurotransmitters revolutionized the way we think about the brain and what it means to be human yet few people know how they were discovered, the scientists involved, or the fierce controversy about whether they even existed. The War of the Soups and the Sparks tells the saga of the dispute between the pharmacologists, who had uncovered the first evidence that nerves communicate by releasing chemicals, and the neurophysiologists, experts on the nervous system, who dismissed the evidence and remained committed to electrical explanations. The protagonists of this story are Otto Loewi and Henry Dale, who received Nobel Prizes for their work, and Walter Cannon, who would have shared the prize with them if he had not been persuaded to adopt a controversial theory (how that happened is an important part of this history). Valenstein sets his story of scientific discovery against the backdrop of two world wars and examines the fascinating lives of several scientists whose work was affected by the social and political events of their time. He recounts such stories as Loewi's arrest by Nazi storm troopers and Dale's efforts at helping key scientists escape Germany. The War of the Soups and the Sparks reveals how science and scientists work. Valenstein describes the observations and experiments that led to the discovery of neurotransmitters and sheds light on what determines whether a novel concept will gain acceptance among the scientific community. His work also explains the immense importance of Loewi, Dale, and Cannon's achievements in our understanding of the human brain and the way mental illnesses are conceptualized and treated.

Advances in Historical Ecology

Author: William L. Balée
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 9780231533577
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Ecology is an attempt to understand the reciprocal relationship between living and nonliving elements of the earth. For years, however, the discipline either neglected the human element entirely or presumed its effect on natural ecosystems to be invariably negative. Among social scientists, notably in geography and anthropology, efforts to address this human-environment interaction have been criticized as deterministic and mechanistic. Bridging the divide between social and natural sciences, the contributors to this book use a more holistic perspective to explore the relationships between humans and their environment. Exploring short- and long-term local and global change, eighteen specialists in anthropology, geography, history, ethnobiology, and related disciplines present new perspectives on historical ecology. A broad theoretical background on the material factors central to the field is presented, such as anthropogenic fire, soils, and pathogens. A series of regional applications of this knowledge base investigates landscape transformations over time in South America, the Mississippi Delta, the Great Basin, Thailand, and India. The contributors focus on traditional societies where lands are most at risk from the incursions of complex, state-level societies. This book lays the groundwork for a more meaningful understanding of humankind's interaction with its biosphere. Scholars and environmental policymakers alike will appreciate this new critical vocabulary for grasping biocultural phenomena.

San Jacinto 1

Author: Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
ISBN: 0817351841
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A significant work of neotropical archaeology presenting evidence of early hunter-gatherers who produced fiber-tempered ceramics. Few topics in the development of humans have prompted as much interest and debate as those of the origins of pottery and agriculture. The first appearance of pottery in any area of the world is heralded as a new stage in the progress of humans toward a more complex arrangement of thought and society. Cultures are defined and separated by the occurrence of pottery types, and the association of pottery with mobility and agriculture continues to drive research in anthropology. For these reasons, the discovery of the earliest fiber-tempered pottery in the New World and carbonized remains identified as maize kernels is exciting. San Jacinto 1 is the archaeological site located in the savanna region of the north coast of Colombia, South America, where excavations by led by the authors have revealed evidence of mobile hunter-gatherers who made pottery and who collected and processed plants from 6000 to 5000 B.P. The site is believed to show an early human adaptation to the tropics in the context of significant environmental changes that were taking place at the time. This volume presents the data gathered and the interpretations made during excavation and analysis of the San Jacinto 1 site. By examining the social activities of a human population in a highly seasonal environment, it adds greatly to our contemporary understanding of the historical ecology of the tropics. Study of the artifacts excavated at the site allows a window into the early processes of food production in the New World. Finally, the data reveals that the origins of ceramic technology in the tropics were tied to a reduction in mobility and an increase in territoriality and are widely applicable to similar studies of sedentism and agriculture worldwide.

Inside Cultures Second Edition

Author: William Bale
Publisher: Left Coast Press
ISBN: 9781629582559
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This popular, readable introductory textbook on sociocultural anthropology has been thoroughly updated and expanded to include new material on genomics, ethnomusicology, race and racism, gender issues across cultures, slavery, and business anthropology.

The Maya Forest Garden

Author: Anabel Ford
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1315417928
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The conventional wisdom says that the devolution of Classic Maya civilization occurred because its population grew too large and dense to be supported by primitive neotropical farming methods, resulting in debilitating famines and internecine struggles. Using research on contemporary Maya farming techniques and important new archaeological research, Ford and Nigh refute this Malthusian explanation of events in ancient Central America and posit a radical alternative theory. The authors-show that ancient Maya farmers developed ingenious, sustainable woodland techniques to cultivate numerous food plants (including the staple maize);-examine both contemporary tropical farming techniques and the archaeological record (particularly regarding climate) to reach their conclusions;-make the argument that these ancient techniques, still in use today, can support significant populations over long periods of time.

Historical Biogeography of Neotropical Freshwater Fishes

Author: James S. Albert
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520948505
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The fish faunas of continental South and Central America constitute one of the greatest concentrations of aquatic diversity on Earth, consisting of about 10 percent of all living vertebrate species. Historical Biogeography of Neotropical Freshwater Fishes explores the evolutionary origins of this unique ecosystem. The chapters address central themes in the study of tropical biodiversity: why is the Amazon basin home to so many distinct evolutionary lineages? What roles do ecological specialization, speciation, and extinction play in the formation of regional assemblages? How do dispersal barriers contribute to isolation and diversification? Focusing on whole faunas rather than individual taxonomic groups, this volume shows that the area’s high regional diversity is not the result of recent diversification in lowland tropical rainforests. Rather, it is the product of species accumulating over tens of millions of years and across a continental arena.

Footprints of the Forest

Author: William L. Balée
Publisher: McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP
ISBN: 9780231074858
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During and especially after the Second World War, a group of leading scholars who had been perilously close to the war's devastation joined others fortunate enough to have been protected by distance in an effort to redefine and reinvigorate Western liberal ideals for a radically new age. Treating evil as an analytical category, they sought to discover the sources of twentieth-century horror and the potentialities of the modern state in the wake of western desolation. In the process, they devised strikingly new ways to understand politics, sociology and history that reverberate still. In this major intellectual history, Ira Katznelson examines the works of Hannah Arendt, Robert Dahl, Richard Hofstadter, Harold Lasswell, Charles Lindblom, Karl Polanyi, and David Truman, detailing their engagement with the larger project of reclaiming the West's moral bearing. In light of their epoch's calamities these intellectuals insisted that the tradition of Enlightenment thought required a new realism, a good deal of renovation, and much recommitment. This array of historians, political philosophers, and social scientists understood that a simple reassertion of liberal modernism had been made radically insufficient by the enormities and moral catastrophes of war, totalitarianism, and holocaust. Confronting their period's dashed hopes for reason and knowledge, they asked not just whether the Enlightenment should define modernity, but which Enlightenment we should wish to have. Decades later, in the midst of a new type of war and reanimated discussions of the concept of evil, we share no small stake in assessing their successes and limitations.

HEADS OF STATE

Author: Denise Y Arnold
Publisher: Left Coast Press
ISBN: 1598741713
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Addresses the importance of the human head in political, ritual and symbolic contexts in the ancient and modern Andes.

Sacred Geographies of Ancient Amazonia

Author: Denise P Schaan
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 131542052X
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The legendary El Dorado—the city of gold—remains a mere legend, but astonishing new discoveries are revealing a major civilization in ancient Amazonia that was more complex than anyone previously dreamed. Scholars have long insisted that the Amazonian ecosystem placed severe limits on the size and complexity of its ancient cultures, but leading researcher Denise Schaan reverses that view, synthesizing exciting new evidence of large-scale land and resource management to tell a new history of indigenous Amazonia. Schaan also engages fundamental debates about the development of social complexity and the importance of ancient Amazonia from a global perspective. This innovative, interdisciplinary book is a major contribution to the study of human-environment relations, social complexity, and past and present indigenous societies.

Landscapes of Movement

Author: James E. Snead
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 1934536539
Format: PDF, Mobi
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The essays in this volume document trails, paths, and roads across different times and cultures, from those built by hunter-gatherers in the Great Basin of North America to causeway builders in the Bolivian Amazon to Bronze Age farms in the Near East, through aerial and satellite photography, surface survey, historical records, and excavation.