Ant 211: Short Description

ANT/ECL 211 (Advanced Topics in Cultural Ecology)

Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture

[Spring Quarter 2008. CRN# 66333. Th 3:00-5:30. 224 Young Hall]
Prof. Bruce Winterhalder

Short Description

The focal reading for this course is Robert Nettings classic synthesis: Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture (Stanford Univesity Press. 1993). John Berger's Pig Earth will serve as a humanistic counter-point to Netting's social science analysis.

Netting's book is a thorough review of cultural ecology studies by anthropologists, geographers and others, embedded in an over-arching argument about the rationality, structure and persistence of this means of livelihood. It commands our attention for the breadth of its coverage and the analytically compelling and somewhat contrarian position Netting takes on his subject. He argues that intensive agriculture will persist as the means of livelihood for hundreds of millions of people; that it is the optimal form of food production in a broad and precisely definable set of circumstances; that this not only is inevitable but it is ecologically desirable; and, that the family is the most effective, maybe the only means of organizing this form of production. We will examine his arguments carefully. 

This seminar emphasizes skill development in two kinds of scholarly practice: (a) on-line database search for primary research literature; and (b) the writing grant proposals. We will focus our discussion not only on Netting's arguments and evidence, but also on more recent literature that updates and may strengthen or challenge his case. Likewise, each student will read a monograph-length study of a particular case of intensive agriculture, and will both report on it and design a reseach proposal to revisit that setting to pursue reseach on some or another issue raised by Netting.

The class should be of interest to any student in the field of human or cultural ecology, economic anthropology, peasant agriculture, international agricultural policy and development and, broadly speaking, to anthropology majors with 
an interest in these particular subdisciplinary fields. 

This class will meet Thursday, from 2:10PM to 5:00PM (or at a more convenient time set by the group). For further information please contact:

Bruce Winterhalder (754-4770; or,