“Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny. Hunter-gatherers practiced the most successful and longest-lasting life style in human history. In contrast, we’re still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it’s unclear whether we can solve it.”
Jared Diamond wrote this highly controversial essay back in the 80’s and it still can elicit strong reactions from anthropologists, geographers, historians, and other scholars. This is a good reading to give students during an agricultural unit. This can get students to question many of the assumptions about humanity that they probably never knew they had (Diamond challenged the mainstream progressivist position).
Questions to Ponder: What is the progressivist view? What were the negative impacts that early agriculture had on human health? What social problems does Diamond attribute to agriculture? What evidence would you present to argue against Diamond’s position?
Tags: agriculture, folk cultures, technology, indigenous.
Leave a Reply