What is Ecological Anthropology?

August 2, 2016

Ecological Anthropology is the study of the role of culture in humanity’s interaction with ecosystems. The theory is that humans shape the environment they live in while the shapes the culture of that population. While a population may not interact with the entire environment, there are certain aspects of the area that it will occupy as a habitat.

For example, humans who were hunter-gatherers would differ from a population that took to farming as a form of life. The hunting-gathering would be nomadic, traveling in small groups, developing technologies for hunting, and forming temporary homes as they hunted animals and gathered plants that grew along the way. Also, these nomadic groups would have to be flexible to search for resources continually. A farming population would rely on a rural region; their land would be used for cultivating crops and raising livestock. Those farmers would remain on land for extended periods of time before moving to develop a new area. These two populations would be influenced by the availability of resources in the ecosystem and would have to develop methods of survival based on their environment.

Other Sources

Bernard, Alan and Johnathan Spencer. “Ecological Anthropology.” In Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. London: Routledge. 2003.