Beyond the foraging-farming continuum: modeling the diversity of human subsistence in multiple dimensions

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 16:15
, Alex - University of Wisconsin-Madison
, Ilhulpachakatl - University of Wisconsin-Madison
, Chelsey Geralda - Simon Fraser University
, Jesse - University of Wisconsin-Madison
, Eve - University of Wisconsin-Madison

Human subsistence strategies have frequently been portrayed on a continuum from foraging to farming. However, studies of traditional resource management have produced numerous examples of activities (e.g. transplanting, pruning, controlled burning) that do not fit neatly on this axis. To account for this complexity, we present multidimensional models of subsistence strategies based on the presence or absence of specific practices. To assess the models, we coded data from an initial sample of eleven cultures in the Western Hemisphere and employed clustering analyses to assess similarities and differences between them. Using these models, we investigated correlations between subsistence strategies, language families, and environments. Recognizing the limitations of coding bias, an incomplete record of practices, and cultural change, we see multidimensional models as an opportunity to explore the diversity of human subsistence practices without a priori placement of farming at the endpoint of a scale.