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Toward a Political Ecology in Early South India: Preliminary Considerations of the Sociopolitics of Land and Animal Use in the Southern Deccan, Neolithic through Early Historic Periods

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Title: Toward a Political Ecology in Early South India: Preliminary Considerations of the Sociopolitics of Land and Animal Use in the Southern Deccan, Neolithic through Early Historic Periods
Authors: Bauer, Andrew M.
Johansen, Peter G.
Bauer, Radhika L.
Keywords: agriculture
landscapes
monumentality
political ecology
zooarchaeology
LC Subject Headings: Prehistoric peoples--Asia--Periodicals.
Prehistoric peoples--Oceania--Periodicals.
Asia--Antiquities--Periodicals.
Oceania--Antiquities--Periodicals.
East Asia--Antiquities--Periodicals.
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
Citation: Bauer, A. M., P. G. Johansen, and R. L. Bauer. 2007. Toward a Political Ecology in Early South India: Preliminary Considerations of the Sociopolitics of Land and Animal Use in the Southern Deccan, Neolithic through Early Historic Periods. Asian Perspectives 46 (1): 3-35.
Series/Report no.: Volume 46
Number 1
Abstract: The archaeology of southern India has long been dominated by cultural-historical paradigms, which have more recently become reliant on environmental stimuli to explain "culture change." This interpretive framework has created a relatively fixed set of relationships between the environment and past human societies that oversimplifies issues of agency and causation in largely deterministic terms. At issue here is a lack of adequate treatment for the sociopolitical complexity of human-environment relationships. In this essay we examine the relationships between emerging social differences and both stable and dynamic aspects of land use throughout the South Indian Neolithic (3000-1200 B.C.), Iron Age (1200-500 B.C.), and Early Historic (500 B.C.-A.D. 500) periods in the southern Deccan region of South India. In an effort to contextualize land use in wider sociopolitical realms, we focus on the empirical components of three aspects of the archaeological record-animal use, agricultural regimes, and monument production and maintenance-through a lens of political ecology. Accepting that land use is socially and culturally mediated, we suggest how sociopolitical distinctions emergent during these periods could be viewed in relation to the production of a landscape that differentially included wild and domesticated animals, cultivars, water reservoirs, irrigation agriculture, and monumental architecture. In this sense, we argue that the landscape itself could be seen as a social product through which sociopolitical differences were experienced and perceived, and that the historical development of the landscape is both the artifact and medium of sociopolitics in early South India. As such, the determinants of social history remain in social and cultural fields of action, though not removed from the ecological-material world of which people are a part. KEYWORDS: agriculture, landscapes, monumentality, political ecology, zooarchaeology.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/17257
ISSN: 1535-8283 (E-ISSN)
0066-8435 (Print)
Appears in Collections:Asian Perspectives, 2007 - Volume 46, Number 1 (Spring)



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