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further_local_discussion_about_the_anthropocentric_jungle

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Theun:

I disagree with much of this; in my opinion Ecosystem_gardening is much less anthropocentric than suggested here and has nothing to do with growing crops. The tribals we met in India, living in stone-age conditions, had little knowledge about plants beyond their use. Human pressures simply never were high enough to need any management. And lastly being in the rainforest for just a few weeks made me quiet sure that its metabolism is way beyond our capacity to prune and weed it. In fact you can't even keep it from invading your body. I'd like to add that research done by Willie Smits on Borneo has shown Orang-utans to use pruning and weeding and sowing.

Socialfiction Bot:

Thank you for looking at it, will try to clarify point by point:

in my opinion Ecosystem_gardening is much less anthropocentric than suggested here and has nothing to do with growing crops.

I am talking here specific about the Amazon and even though it is not orthodoxy yet, the long-lived idea that the Amazon is 'virgin' and pristine is being replaced with a view of the Amazon as a product of human history. This includes the native people who live from it but also the forest itself. I will make it myself easy here and just refer you to http://books.google.com/books?id=XnELAAAAYAAJ by Charles Mann which contains the best overview in print and cannot be recommended enough. What it breaks down is the hard distinction between gardening and foraging: foraging becomes, to a certain degree, time-lapse gardening. The Ecosystem_gardening page as it stand now is not really containing what it says.

The tribals we met in India, living in stone-age conditions, had little knowledge about plants beyond their use.

Nobody lives in a stone-age condition, it is an easy turn of phrase that is bordering on racism. The very fact that you were there (and they didn't eat you) is testament to this. The average European doesn't even know about the plants they do use. Indian Cuisine only became possible after the discovery of America. The often called stone-age people of the Amazon make their existence in a way that has been possible for 300 years at best. I am sure this is true for many other people in the world as well.

Human pressures simply never were high enough to need any management.

Again, talking specifically about the Amazon, populations were vast when the Euro-pigs first arrived there. This also connects with your next point.

And lastly being in the rainforest for just a few weeks made me quiet sure that its metabolism is way beyond our capacity to prune and weed it. In fact you can't even keep it from invading your body.

Obviously you can't control it like you control a field of grain or a rice paddy but humans (like all animals) are part of that eco-system and have, over time, the power to steer it into useful directions. It is hard to imagine how that actually works but there is plenty of evidence and pointers to suggest it.

This paper is an important entry point into the discussion: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/anthro/system/files/Erickson2006.pdf

I'd like to add that research done by Willie Smits on Borneo has shown Orang-utans to use pruning and weeding and sowing.

Ah! Just as language is part of primate evolution, so might be species cultivation. Can I point out another interesting (Dutch) researcher: Marc van Roosmalen: http://socialfiction.org/?tag=roosmalen his book contains a fascinating explanation on how to learn to survive in a tropical forest.

Theun:

Spotting these grey areas between gardening and foraging or between pristine 'natural' forests and human inhabited forests, is useful and clears up the discussion. Thanks for posting your views and for adding the research. Obviously I have very little knowledge about the Amazon and just base my remarks on limited personal experience in the forest of the Western Ghat mountains in Kerala. This type of 'field-research' is of course deeply subjective, but can be a useful addition to less direct research methods and your first entries, made me a bit suspicious about that at first. I'll sniff through the research you added and I'm sure it will increase my knowledge of these topics.

further_local_discussion_about_the_anthropocentric_jungle.txt · Last modified: 2010/02/01 15:17 by theunkarelse