Lill-Jans Plan 2
Stockholm 11425 Sweden
Area of Interest:
Current Research Interests:
Epistemology of complex adaptive systems, especially as regards human societies; "Two Cultures" (science/humanities) problems in inter- and transdisciplinary research; integrated global- to local-scale historical ecology; historical climate change; evolution of landscapes; social inequality; social memory; applications of geomatics (esp. GIS/remote sensing) to anthropology, ecology, and regional planning.
B.A. (1966) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), in anthropology, with minors in geology and classics.M.A. (1967) University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada), in archaeology. Thesis title: The Kantzler Site: A Multicomponent Manifestation of the Woodland Pattern. Advisor: Richard S. MacNeish.
Thesis published, 1973.Ph.D. (1972) University of Wisconsin (Madison), in anthropology, with a minor in ecology. Dissertation title: Celtic Social Structure: The Generation of Archaeologically Testable Hypotheses from Literary Evidence. Advisors: Chester S. Chard, Paul MacKendrick.
Dissertation published, 1974.
Visiting Professor, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History
Research Director, Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (IHOPE)
Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Visiting Professor, Centre for Biodiversity
Swedish Agricultural University (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden
Research & Activities:
My first work in anthropology was in museology and Native North American archaeology and ethnohistory, with fieldwork in the Great Lakes region. My doctoral work and subsequent research has reflected a keen interest in state-level societies (particularly aspects of status and class) and in macro-scale spatial configurations (settlement agglomeration and disagglomeration) and their relationships to socio-political organization. I have theoretical interests in dialectical and structural approaches to contemporary human/environment relations, and in utilizing an explicitly historical, culturally specific ecology to formulate regional mitigation plans. I continue to expand a critique of hierarchy as a means of calling attention to the existence of viable social structural alternatives, which have the advantage of being more responsive to environmental constraints.
Europe (especially France) offers a particularly rich archaeological, ethnohistoric, and ethnographic resource, and I concentrate research efforts there. My first major project, 1975-1987, explored the historical ecology of Burgundy (France) from before the Roman conquest (Celtic Iron Age) to the present. The volume Regional Dynamics: Burgundian Landscapes in Historical Perspective (Academic Press, Inc., 1987) reports that work. Our current research in Burgundy (since 1991) traces changes in settlement and land use from Celtic times two thousand years ago to the present, paying particular attention to the cultural transmission of ecological values that have ensured the long term durability of the Burgundian landscape.
An initial research objective was to interview current farmers and gardeners about their understanding of the relationship between environmental factors (climate, weather, soils, drainage, etc) and farm and garden practices (affected as they are by governmental regulations, markets, and regional and family history). This led us to explore the role of gardens in the transmission of cultural knowledge. There are many rationales for making gardens, ranging from practical utility to cosmic meanings. If pleasure gardens are theaters, then vernacular gardens are schools. The vernacular garden (from the Latin word for "native") is a conservative form, home to a mix of vegetables, fruit trees, and other elements useful in the maintenance of the household. The English term garden (French jardin) has vulgate Latin (gardinum), Teutonic, and Norse roots (garth), the latter of which defines "a small piece of enclosed ground, usually beside a house or other building, used as a yard, garden, or paddock". Vernacular gardens are defined as plots in which plants are tended by hand, and which form part of the domestic economy.
Gardens play a critical role in reducing risks associated with inclement weather all over the world. Unlike field crops, gardens shelter numerous species in special soils and under controlled microclimatic conditions. Plants receive individual attention and enable the gardener to develop an intimate understanding of soils, winds, and seasons as they relate to the garden plot. In addition to abundant produce, gardens both conserve traditional species and are filled with small experiments that yield new information.
Our current research seeks to identify and document the social, political, and economic elements of land use practice together with historical and environmental circumstance that combine to sustain a productive regional economy over the long term (centuries). Our larger project, underway for a over quarter century, pioneered an interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological framework termed historical ecology. Abundant data from a consistently productive temperate region with a long agrarian (6000 years) and industrial (2000 years) history (Burgundy, France) permit integrated analysis of socioeconomic and environmental change at local, regional, and global spatial scales and at time scales of year, decade, and century.
The project goal is to construct a model for the comparative study of enduring agrarian practice. Project objectives are to (1) trace the complex history of events and conditions that have both jeopardized and fostered sustainable land use strategies in an historically productive region, (2) identify key elements and relations of that practice, and (3) assess contemporary land use against the historical backdrop.
This project applies an integrated theoretical framework and mensurable concepts of diversity and flexibility to analyze landscape elements and land use strategies across time and space. The research can operationalize the problematic concept of sustainability, add a significant new historic dimension to the global sustainability dialogue, underscore the fundamental importance of region-based cultural knowledge and practice, and inform global and national agricultural policy decisions.
Our hypotheses, based on previous work with primarily earlier time periods and broader scales, are that even in industrial nation-states
* Local knowledge-based smallholder land use strategies (e.g., scheduling, species diversity, use of microenvironments) maintain environmental integrity.
* Flexibility of choice, based on cultural and biotic diversity, is maintained through intergenerational transmission of local environmental knowledge.
* Interruption of this transmission compromises flexibility.
* Homogenization of the rural economy reduces flexibility and leads to the deterioration of key landscape elements.
* The loss of key landscape elements renders the rural environment economically and ecologically vulnerable.
An Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Through the integrated analysis of environmental and social information, researchers can read the results of human activities and choices that ultimately affect the entire system, including both human and non-human components. Varied sources of data enable hypotheses to be evaluated with greater independence. Since the success of mitigation is often determined by how well cultural practices have been understood, it is important to shape policy that can incorporate local and regional knowledge. Certain regions of the world are particularly sensitive to environmental changes that affect both human and other living populations. As a laboratory in which previous and current environmental experiments (intentional and unintentional) may be closely analyzed, such regions foster creative thinking about contemporary issues of risk and sustainability. The region of Burgundy, in east-central France, is remarkable in its environmental and historical complexity. An extensive database already exists, covering geology, biology, and the social sciences. Spatial data are aggregated into a Geographic Information System with over 100 layers. Available data include LANDSAT and SPOT imagery of the region (from 1979 onward), data from AIRES and other scanners, and digitized contemporary and historic maps (some going back as far as 1759).
Courses Offered: Introduction to Anthropology; History of Anthropology; Formation of the State; Ethnohistory; European Societies; Historial Ecology; World Archaeology; Archaeological Theory; Teaching Anthropology; Freshman Seminar in Complexity; Complex Systems Graduate Seminar.
Current Research Interests:
Epistemology of complex systems, especially heterarchy and hierarchy, "Two Cultures" (science/humanities) problems in interdisciplinary research; integrated global- to local-scale historical ecology; evolution of landscapes; social inequality; social memory; applications of geomatics (esp. GIS) to anthropology, ecology, and regional planning.
Affiliated and Emeritus Faculty