Against the Grain: The Vayda Tradition in Human Ecology and Ecological Anthropology

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Overview

To rise to the increasingly urgent challenge of understanding the relationship between human beings and the environment, scholars need to step back and reevaluate their basic premises about how current explanations should shape the form and content of their research. Against the Grain addresses a variety of topics in the field of human ecology. including ecological anthropology, evolutionary psychology, environmental history, and geography, and challenges scholars to rethink the adequacy of their methods and assumptions. Andrew P. Vayda concludes the volume with a critical commentary on these issues and, more widely, on the subject of explanation. The result is an extremely useful and provocative precis for thinking about, reevaluating, and rectifying scholarly research.
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Editorial Reviews

Economic Botany
Against the Grain provides an admirable survey of Vayda's career, shows some interesting extensions and applications of his ideas, and provides an elaborated critique of contrasting views in human ecology and ecological anthropology.

I recommend this book to all who explore human environment relationships and those economic botanists who wish to explore "why" questions in their study of plant use.

October 2009 Current Anthropology
. . . An excellent volume . . . Its strength lies in providing an intellectual history of an eminent anthropologist and a partial understanding of his influence on scholars and on anthropological theory, methodology, and practice over a considerable number of years.
18 February 2010 Human Ecology
The volume is a resource that is likely to be referenced frequently by researchers and individual chapters will provide excellent reading material for courses in ecological anthropology.
Paul Robbins
In a world of enormous socio-environmental complexity, perhaps the most laudable intellectual position is one of rigorous humility. The works in this volume are compelling tributes to such an approach, providing sober, meticulous, and powerful explanations, all of which urge against over-simple generalization and a priori assumptions, which too often blur our understanding of the environmental changes around us. The Vayda tradition is alive and well, and we would all do well to heed its lessons.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759111738
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 12/16/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bradley B. Walters is associate professor of geography & environment at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Bonnie J. McCay is Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in the Department of Human Ecology. Paige West is assistant professor of anthropology at Barnard College, New York. Susan Lees is professor emerita of anthropology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Bradley B. Walters Bonnie J. McCay 1

Introductory Essays

1 An Intellectual History of Ecological Anthropology Bonnie J. McCay 11

2 Maori Warfare: Prefiguring Contemporary Directions in Ecological Science Richard Scaglion 27

Events, Causes, and Explanations

3 Explaining Causes in Evolving Contexts: From Nepali Hill Farmers to Business Managers in Thailand Gunnar Haaland 43

4 Events, Politics, and Environmental Change Bradley B. Walters 67

5 Orthodoxy and Revision in West African Guinea Savanna Ecology A. Endre Nyerges 81

6 Looking for Cause with All the Small Changes: Using Event Ecology to Find Human Causes of Biological Invasions David J. Bart 99

7 Shell Games on the Water Bottoms of Louisiana: Investigative Journalism and Anthropological Inquiry Thomas R. McGuire 117

8 Process in an Eventful Environment Christine Padoch Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez Andrew Roberts 135

9 A New Guinea Culture-Bound Syndrome Revisited: Vayda, Humility, and Monological Authority in Anthropology Paul Roscoe 145

10 Deductive-nomological vs. Causal-mechanical Explanation: Relative Strengths and Weaknesses in Anthropological Explanation Lawrence A. Kuznar Kenneth Long 159

11 Vayda Blues: Explanation in Darwinian Ecological Anthropology Catherine Driscoll Stephen Stich 175

Research on Environment and Development

12 What Kind of Anthropology for Successful Conservation Management and Development? Cristina Eghenter 195

13 Environmental Conservation and Social Life in Papua New Guinea Paige West 207

14 The Concept of Human Agency in Contemporary Conservation and Development Michael R. Dove Andrew Salvador Mathews Keely MaxwellJonathan Padwe Anne Rademacher 225

15 Using Progressive Contextualization to Understand a Rural Development Success Story in Indonesian Borneo Patricia J. Vondal 255

16 From Understanding to Action: Building on Anthropological Approaches to Influence Policy Making Carol J. Pierce Colfer 273

17 The Relevant Context: Environmental Consequences of Images of the Future Gerard A. Persoon Padmapani L. Perez 287

18 Indigenous Knowledge and In Situ Crop Germplasm Conservation Indah Setyawati 307

Concluding Essay

19 Causal Explanation as a Research Goal: A Pragmatic View Andrew P. Vayda 317

Index 369

About the Contributors 375

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