Human Adaptability: An Introduction to Ecological Anthropology

Human Adaptability: An Introduction to Ecological Anthropology

Human Adaptability: An Introduction to Ecological Anthropology

Human Adaptability: An Introduction to Ecological Anthropology

Synopsis

Designed to help students to understand the multiple levels at which human populations respond to their surroundings, this is a study of environmental, physiological, behavioural and cultural adaptive strategies.

Excerpt

The warm reception of the first edition of this book among environmental specialists in ecology, medical sciences, public health, geography, and anthropology has encouraged me to prepare a second edition. When the book first appeared in spring 1979, I was seeking to present a systems approach that would help overcome the disciplinary biases that seemed to restrict the development of holistic research and theory building. There has been a great deal of work on human adaptation since 1979 and many theoretical currents have blown through our academic centers, but truly systemic approaches to research remain a rarity--and the demand for scholars with such facility has increased dramatically as a result of a renewed concern over human impacts on the planet and evidence on global environmental change. I believe the task of understanding and addressing fundamental problems of human adaptation that are sensitive to the complexity of human responses is still before us. I hope that the new edition of this book will continue to contribute to shaping our methods of conceptualizing research and to our growing understanding of the multiple levels of adaptation under conditions of pervasive environmental changes.

One of the emergent directions for research on how people relate to environment is occurring under the cover of either Integrative Science or Sustainability Science. Both are concerned with the integration of bio- physical and social science research and with the discovery of ways by which we can ensure that the earth continues to operate as a sustaining basis for the world's species and life as we know it. the term "sustain- ability" has proven to be a contentious one, like "carrying capacity," because it seems to embody so many assumptions and processes, all of them subject to bias and priorities. Nevertheless, these current efforts reflect a growing consciousness that science is at the service of society and nature, that it should contribute to understanding the implications of our actions and point the way to alternative scenarios. This can only be done by overcoming past disciplinary biases, by reaching out to civil society to ensure people's engagement with the science and with the political process that will be required to take action in a timely fashion.

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