Modern conjunctures
For hundreds of thousands of years, we human beings knew solely foraging – gathering and hunting in small bands – as our way of organizing communities
and providing the necessities of life on earth. About six hundred generations have now passed, however, since the appearance of Neolithic innovations,
among them horticultural, agricultural, and pastoralist modes of production in some societies in many parts of the world. Whether willingly adopted, imposed
by force, or resisted and evaded to whatever degree possible, these innovations have transformed conditions of life and imagination for all of us.
More recently, in roughly the past half-millenium, further changes have been brought by the emergence and expansion of industrial = and now post-industrial
– societies of vast scale and power. Each of the following sources gives an anthropological account of people whose distinctive ways of organizing social life
and knowing the world around them have been shaped by these larger modern social forces and historical events:
– Brody, The Other Side of Eden (hunters of arctic and sub-arctic north America);
– González, Zapotec Science (farmers of southwestern Mexico);
– Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer, and Holtzman, Nuer Journeys, Nuer Lives (pastoralists of southern Sudan); and
– Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Moss, ‘The extraordinary science of addictive junk food’ (post-industrial lifeways of the United States)
Answer these questions with reference to all four groups of people, and to all of the above sources:
* In your judgment, what most sharply distinguishes each group and its ways of life in the long term (as these are described by the respective authors)?
* What are the most significant social and historical forces responsible for changing these ways of life in the recent past and today?
Then, in a final paragraph or so:
* Identify a situation in your own life or in the lives of people you know in which similar social and historical forces or developments play a major role.
Describe the situation and the group(s) of people involved briefly and precisely. How are the people involved affected by these forces or historical trends, and
how are they working with or against or around them? What insights or conclusions do you propose from comparing this situation – and the social and
historical forces involved – with those faced by one or more of the other groups you have discussed?
If you like, please use examples from class meetings (lecture, videos, slides, etc.) or recommended online sources (examples: the videos Nanook of the
North, Invisible Indians, The Nuer, Lost Boys of Sudan, We Come As Friends; Michael Pollan talks) to further develop your line of thought. For at least one
topic (Inuit; Zapotec; Nuer; US), please also include substantial material from library or online sources, with full citation, to add scope and detail to your paper.
Please limit your essay to 1500 words, and use the full guidelines below as a checklist before submitting your paper.
Please be specific and illustrate your points where appropriate with key details from these texts and from class notes. Feel free to write in the first person
where appropriate (i.e., “I think…”, “Here I am contrasting…”, etc.). Stay focused on discussing the texts assigned accurately and in detail, and in clearly
developing your example from your own daily life or the lives of people you know, rather than introducing other materials or opinions or topics or experiences
in your essay. Where you state your judgment or opinion, give specific evidence and clear arguments, especially cited from the texts, for your position.
* Study carefully any comments given on your first paper and on your Blackboard posts. Fix problems noted, and review your work specifically to correct and
improve it in these regards. See the Blackboard tab ‘Reading and writing’ for guides to correct punctuation, especially commas. To truly improve your writing
going forward, consult, download, and archive sources there, especially the classic writer’s guide The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White.
* Proofread carefully for clarity and for correct spelling, syntax, and punctuation. * Please note that essays with careless errors in these regards will be
marked down sharply.
* Use no quotes longer than a brief phrase please (NO full sentence quotes) * Find a way to say things clearly and precisely in your own words.
Cite page numbers in parentheses in this way: (Schneider 102). Use these to indicate when you are giving detail or ideas from another source, or to show
what part of a text you are referring to. The second consecutive time you cite a given source you need only list the page number(s); for example (107-111).
To cite a class lecture or discussion if you want, simply write “c” for class and the date if you know it; for example “(c 9/8)”.
Example: Spubley believes the hefalump data contradicts itself because it appears only in ancient Akkadian records (Spubley 19). I disagree, however, with
his conclusion that this invalidates all known records of imaginary beings, since our other authors give accounts of gremlins, leprechauns, and yeti which
don’t have this problem (Glimgramble 307-309; Plorp 49).
IMPORTANT: The word limit is 1500 words for this paper (body of text only; not counting ‘references cited’). Please include a word count at the end of your
paper. Papers longer than 1500 words will be marked down exactly proportional to the overlength (ex. 125 words over = 10 points off). That is, make your