Workshop for the Society and Environment - Sean Downey
Event Date and Time:
Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 10:30am to 12:00pm
November 5, 2014: Sean Downey, Assistant Professor of Ecological Anthropology
University of Maryland, College Park Maryland, “Analyzing the emergence of a complex swidden management system in the Toledo District, Belize.”
ABSTRACT: Despite the fact that swidden agriculture has been the subject of decades of research, questions remain as to the extent to which it is constrained by demographic growth and if it can adapt to environmental limits. In his presentation, Downey will show ethnographic and ethnohistorical evidence and the results of a social network analysis that suggest Q’eqchi’ Maya swidden agriculture during the past 100 years may be more ecologically adaptive than previously thought. He develops a novel interpretation of labor reciprocity that highlights how unreciprocated exchanges, when they occur within the context of a network, may limit overexploitation of the forest. The observed labor network variability suggests that Q'eqchi' swidden farming can maintain its identity under changing conditions, a common definition of resilience.