Changing the climate: Bioarchaeology responds to deterministic thinking about human–environmental interactions in the past

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Gwen Robbins Schug, Visiting Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: As members of the global public become increasingly concerned about climate change, popular presses promote “scientific” narratives about the success or failure of past societies (e.g., Diamond, Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking, 2005), human security literature perpetuates a narrative that violence is a “natural” outcome of increased competition in such circumstances (e.g., Barnett and Adger, Political Geography 26(6):639–655, 2007), and generally, neither the public nor policy-makers are exposed to information about the topic of human-environmental interactions from those who know it best, anthropologists. This chapter explores the development of the human security field and the development of pseudo-evolutionary, ahistorical, adaptationist narratives about human behavior in the face of changing climates. The chapter also demonstrates implications of these narratives as they have been adopted by policy-makers at the EPA and DoD. Finally, the chapter provides an example of a bioarchaeological approach to research on human-environmental relations in the past and the complex dynamics that shaped the human experience of climate, social, and economic changes in the first and second millennium BCE in South Asia. Human security literature is the basis for planning for a warmer world. Anthropological perspectives are the necessary antidote to narratives of competition and violence that promote a governmental agenda to prevail at all costs.

Additional Information

J. Buikstra (Ed.), Bioarchaeologists Speak Out: Deep Time Perspectives on Contemporary Issues (pp. 133–159). Cham: Springer.
Language: English
Date: 2018
Climate change, Human security, Violent conflict, Vulnerability, Bioarchaeology, Indus civilization

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