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MANE-005: Environmental Anthropology

MANE-005: Environmental Anthropology

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

If you are looking for MANE-005 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Environmental Anthropology, you have come to the right place. MANE-005 solution on this page applies to 2022-23 session students studying in MAAN courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MANE 005/AST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: MANE-005

Assignment Name: Environmental Anthropology

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


There are two sections ‘A’ and ‘B.’ Attempt any five questions in total and at least two questions, from each section. 20x5


Section A


Q1) Discuss briefly development of environmentalism perspective in Anthropology.

Ans) Because of its emphasis on human interaction in environmental context, anthropology has historically had strong connections to the study of the environment. Since the 1980s, there has been a rapid rise in environmental activity and concern around the world. Anthropological study on environmental issues has been a component of this public arena. As a result of the employment of new communication and biological technologies, this in turn has led to considerable changes in how humans and their environment interact.


Anthropological Engagement with Environmentalism

The term "environment" is frequently used interchangeably with "Nature" in everyday speech; however, this usage greatly complicates conceptual understanding because the environment of a specific human group includes both cultural and biophysical components. Consequently, the relational and perspectival organism/environment dynamic is sometimes mistakenly combined with the essentialist and substantive nature/culture dualism. A wide variety of socio-natural units of study that transect the nature/culture divide can be defined using the concept of environment as a research tool.


When referring to an explicit, active concern with the interaction between different human groups and their environments, anthropologists Paul Little and others like to use the term environmentalism. Although the term "environmentalist" typically refers to political activists, it can also be used to refer to individuals and organisations that are actively engaged in recognising and/or mediating this relationship. There are two main subfields of environmental anthropology research today, each with its own techniques and research topics. The first, dubbed ecological anthropology, makes use of ecological approaches to investigate the interactions between various human communities and their surroundings. The second, known as environmental anthropology, studies environmentalism as a sort of human action and includes policy and value orientation, application, analytic unit, scale, and technique.


Emergence and Development of Environmental Anthropology

Anthropologists came to think of human beings and their settings as embedded in complex social processes even though the field of anthropology has its roots in the study of small-scale communities. Along with a growing interest in interpreting the dynamics of ecological systems in terms of the dynamics of more expansive political systems, a greater appreciation of the complexity of social and ecological systems arose. Scholars expanded their scope of reference to include global systems and placed the cultures they researched within the broader international political economy, going beyond the study of subsistence communities.


The developments in ecological anthropology are a reflection of a broader movement in anthropological inquiry that focuses on the nexus of international, domestic, regional, and local systems. In order to analyse forms of social and cultural disintegration connected to the integration of small communities into a contemporary world system, new perspectives, primarily concerned with the influence of markets, social inequities, and political conflicts, arose in the 1990s. Studying local environmental and social changes related to global trends became difficult for anthropology.


Definition and Scope of Environmental Anthropology

Ecological anthropology, which can be defined as the study of the interactions between human groups, cultures, and civilizations, as well as the ecosystems in which they are immersed, has evolved into environmental anthropology more recently. Environmental anthropology is defined by academics as gaining popularity in the 1980s and often concentrating on the examination and application of anthropological knowledge to current environmental challenges. Environmental anthropology is more concerned with current environmental issues and has a more practical, practising, critical, and/or advocacy approach, while ecological anthropology is more concerned with basic academic research and can be seen of as one interrelated subject.


Q2) Discuss colonial and post-colonial forest policies in India.

Ans) Because the forest was not viewed as a source of income or commercialization, it was widely believed in ancient India that the rulers did not control the forests or the communities living there. Dramatic changes were brought about by the effects of industrialization and British rule in India in the 18th century. The Indian Forest Act, which established the nation State as the sole owner of designated forest lands, was established in 1878 as a result of the need to meet the nation's growing demand for timber and growing discontent with the legal restrictions imposed by earlier legislation.


In diverse parts of the subcontinent during earlier historical eras, people utilised forest resources with little interference from the rulers. Only a small portion of the resources were under the rulers' control; all other resources were freely utilised by the populace. For instance, Tipu Sultan was solely in charge of the sandalwood trade in the Mysore region. The degree to which deforestation had already taken place in the pre-colonial era is a topic of discussion in the environmental history literature. Of course, during the pre-colonial period, substantial tracts were cleared for agricultural growth, pastoral use, and strategic goals in various sections of the nation.

During the colonial era, the commercialization of woods led to widespread deterioration. Large tracts of forest were cleared for commercial purposes prior to the Forest Act, as colonial rule had established the commercialization of woods in various regions of the nation from the eighteenth century. Sandalwood was sold in significant quantities to other nations from the beginning of the nineteenth century. In the second half of the nineteenth century, plantations for coffee and tea were created in the hilly regions.


Although India has a long history of forest policy, it has only recently begun to recognise the livelihoods of people who live in or are dependent upon forests. It is mostly tribal land that has been designated as a state forest, which has led to ongoing conflicts and contestation and the tribal people losing access to their sources of subsistence. The long-term historical process of indigenous tribal populations being driven further into the forests by the takeover of tribal lands by non-tribals has included the reservation of forests by the FDs. Without acknowledging customary rights, notably those of shifting cultivators, the State has seized significant portions of Schedule V area lands as State forests.


Some of the rules from the 1894 policy were adopted into the Indian Forest Act of 1927. In terms of the extent of government control, reserved forests are essentially areas where the government has the power to settle, transfer, or commutate community rights. The rights were documented and regulated in protected woods, and the government was unable to change them. In the village woodlands, no restrictions were imposed, and all privileges were unrestricted. In categorised reserved forests where a deadline for resolving native claims was established, the government gained more authority. It obtained the authority to impose a tax on other forest products, including timber, in both government-owned and private forests.


The 1927 Act saw some changes as a result of the new policy. The Acts of various governments were modified. Fresh forest Acts were passed by new States and union territories. This strategy significantly expanded the gap between forest policy and forest Acts. While the forest policy speaks of aspirational objectives like environmental protection, human development, and tribal welfare, the Acts are largely concerned with regulating tribal rights. In the three decades that have followed, the programme has had a terrible effect on the woods and the tribal people. Significant administrative adjustments have been made in the woods as a result.


Q3) Briefly discuss human bio-cultural adaptation.

Ans) Due to their capacity to manipulate both the living and inanimate aspects of their environment, humans have colonised a broad variety of ecosystems. This strategy is largely founded on the idea of adaptation, which holds that people have a set of biological features that allow them to survive within specified bounds. It entails alterations to the organism's physiology, structure, behaviour, or culture with the goal of enhancing its ability to function under stressful conditions. These adjustments may be short-term or long-term in nature, and they may be temporary or permanent.


Response to Heat

Humans maintain a consistent body temperature through a complex system of heat intake and heat loss. Humans respond to heat stress in hot climates by dissipating heat. Radiation, conduction, convection, and evaporation all contribute to body-to-environment heat transmission. All humans have a similar amount of sweat glands on average. The warmest locations had the highest surface area-to-body-mass ratios. Such a morphological design is suitable for evaporative cooling and dry heat exchanges. Vasodilation, when blood capillaries near the skin's surface expand, improves peripheral heat conductivity.


Cultural Adaptation

It has to do with establishing and maintaining a favourable microclimate that is different from the surrounding environment close to the individual. Reduced skin temperature, a vapour pressure gradient that favours evaporative heat loss, and shielding from conductive, convective, and radiation heat gain are all characteristics of the ideal microclimate. Behaviour and social adaptations play a significant role in the extrasomatic zone by preserving a favourable microclimate inside a broader and more stressful macroenvironment.


Response to Cold

Human physiological reactions to cold combine elements that improve heat production and heat retention. Stress vasoconstriction inhibits the flow of warm blood from the core to the skin when exposure to cold, reducing skin temperature. Blood flowing from superficial to deep veins in the extremities contributes to the blood's decreased ability to transfer heat. The heat conductance to the periphery is reduced by the counter-current heat exchange between arteries and veins. Body dimensions and size play a role in controlling body temperature. Body size tends to grow with latitude within a species in general.


Regarding this correlation between body size, body proportion, and climate, two laws apply:

  1. Bergman Rule: In mammalian species, populations living in colder regions typically have larger bodies. Greater heat retention and decreased heat loss are made possible by decreased surface area and increased mass.

  2. Allen’s Rule: Shorter appendages with higher mass-to-surface ratios are useful at preventing heat loss in colder areas. In contrast, longer appendages with higher surface area to mass ratios allow heat loss.


Cultural Adaptation

The Australian Aborigines are subjected to mild cold stress at night and moderate heat stress during the day due to the diurnal-nocturnal temperature change. Because they didn't build shelters or wear clothing, sleeping fires served as their only source of heat to protect them from the cold.


Response to High Altitude

High altitude environments stress people with hypoxia, severe sun radiation, cold, low humidity, wind, decreased nutrition, and challenging terrain. Hypoxia strains physiological processes the most and is hard to change through culturally ingrained behaviour or emotions. Hypoxia and reduced O2 haemoglobin saturation result when oxygen partial pressure decreases with altitude. It hinders cardiopulmonary cell oxygenation. Hypoxia induces anorexia and dehydration, which leads to weight loss. Increased infant mortality, miscarriage, and premature birth are further hypoxic impacts. Reduced maternal foetal oxygen transport and growth also cause low birth weight babies.


Cultural Adaptation

The use of glucose, a vital O2 efficient source of energy for the brain, is another issue with acclimatisation to high altitudes. Under both resting and active conditions, there is a noticeable dependence on blood sugar that gets stronger the longer you spend in high altitudes.




Q1) Briefly describe notable contributions of application of concept of ecosystem in anthropology some ways to slow down ageing process.

Ans) Later anthropologists took up the groundwork laid by Julian Steward and Leslie White in American Anthropology and advanced the Ecosystem Approach in Anthropology. Tarak Chandra Das, Clifford Geertz, Fredrik Barth, Andrew P. Vayda, Roy A. Rappaport, Robert MCc Netting, Madhav Gadgil, and Kailash Malhotra are a few anthropologists whose works we will analyse in this context.


The Relationship between Environment and Productive Technology

In the early years of the discipline, Tarak Chandra Das was a pioneering Indian anthropologist who began a thorough investigation of the dynamic interaction between productive technology and the environment in 1937. A field report by Das with the working title "Some comments on the economic and agricultural life of a little-known tribe on the eastern boundary of India" was published in the esteemed international magazine Anthropos.


Generalised and Specialised Ecosystems

Clifford Geertz borrowed the concepts of "generalised" and "specialised" ecosystems from ecologist E. P. Odum for his book Agricultural Involution. Geertz compared the two types of Indonesian ecosystems under colonialism and population pressure in Agricultural Involution. He showed that the two ecosystems in Indonesia, one represented by 'swidden' or slash-and-burn agriculture and the other by 'wet-rice agriculture,' had different dynamics, which influenced differences in population density, land use, and agricultural output in outer and inner Indonesia.


Ethnic Groups and Ecological Niches

Barth, a Norwegian Social Anthropologist trained in Britain, used "niche" to understand the connection of ethnic groups in a vast geographical area. Like Geertz, Barth took ecological niche, competition, and symbiosis from biology to investigate the adaptability of three ethnic groups in the Swat valley in Pakistan. Ecological niche refers to a species' function in an ecosystem.


Barth developed four concepts utilising the ecological framework:

  1. The distribution of ethnic groups is not governed by objective and fixed natural areas but by the distribution of ecological niches that the group can exploit with its distinctive economic and political organisation.

  2. Different ethnic groups can coexist in a region if they exploit different ecological niches and have symbiotic economic relationships.

  3. If multiple ethnic groups can exploit the same niches, the stronger will displace the weaker.

  4. If distinct ethnic groups use the same ecological niches but the weaker of them can use marginal conditions, they may coexist, as Gujars and Kohistanis in West Kohistan.


Population Expansion through Warfare

Vayda's 1961 study 'Expansion and fighting among swidden agriculturalists' pioneered an important field of ecological inquiry. In that piece, he questioned the usual anthropological understanding of fighting in basic communities as a 'safety-valve institution' for releasing pent-up aggressions. Vayda presented two case studies of conflict among the Maoris of New Zealand and Ibans of Sarawak to explain population growth in an ecological framework.


Resource Management through Religious Ritual

Rappaport described Tsembaga civilization as a system in which a religious ritual-maintained balance between humans and subsistence resources. Rappaport considered the Tsembaga's relationship with their environment as a complex system with two subsystems: a local subsystem formed of Tsembaga cultural practises and the immediate nonhuman environment, and a wider regional subsystem of which Tsembaga is a component.


The Ecological Sustainability of Peasant Economy

Robert McNetting made lifelong contributions to Ecological Anthropology. Netting extended Julian Steward's Cultural Ecology questions in an intense, cross-cultural context. One of the most spectacular Netting activities was done on steep northern Nigerian farms. Netting's description and research showed that the physical environment of the Kofyars was closely tied to demographic, economic, and "social instrumentalities" that played a critical role in maintaining the peasant household inside the market economy.

An Ecosystem Approach to Caste System

An Indian scientist and an anthropologist undertook a remarkable study in the 1980s to explain the hereditary monopoly of particular occupations from an ecological perspective. Madhav Gadgil and Kailash Malhotra did fieldwork in Maharashtra, India. The study found that Kunbi, Gavli, Hatkar, Tirumal Nandiwallas, Fulmali Nandiwallas, Vaidus, and Phasepardhis pursued their traditional occupations without conflict or rivalry employing specialised technology and natural resource bases.


Q2) What do you understand by anthropological actions on climate change and the way ahead?

Ans) It is still unknown what anthropological measures may be required in the near future to combat climate change in light of the tight relationship between culture, communities, and climate change discussed above. According to Crate, the issue of climate change places anthropologists in a position of emergency as field researchers, and it is their responsibility to translate, advocate for, inform, and mediate between the anthropologists' study communities and the greater global community. She believes that both in the field and at home, anthropologists are strategically positioned to analyse it, share knowledge about it, and take appropriate action.


By encouraging cross-cultural knowledge exchange and assisting communities in integrating into global networks and systems, anthropologists could aid people in adapting to climate change. Crate points out that research on the local effects of climate change indicates that indigenous peoples' capacity for adaptation may not be sufficient to deal with these implications. According to her, this necessitates an action-oriented strategy for anthropological climate change research that starts with creating cultural models of local climate change effects, fills in any gaps in current Western scientific knowledge, and culminates in disseminating that knowledge and utilising it to create adaptive strategies, policy recommendations, and advocacy.


Anthropologists will need to assist local and indigenous people in presenting their problems and take the initiative in formulating policy. Baer thinks that anthropologists will contribute to a larger effort to lessen the effects of global warming on humanity and to consider a different global system that is dedicated to meeting people's basic needs, promoting social equality and justice, democracy, and environmental sustainability. According to Batterbury, for anthropology to continue to be relevant to the problem of climate change, it has to be more at ease working within a multidisciplinary framework.


Malone and Rayner claim that because of the complexity of the climate change problem, there needs to be complementarity between the approaches of the "hard" natural and physical sciences and the "soft" social sciences, as well as agreement between interpretive and descriptive approaches within the social sciences. The need for anthropologists to collaborate on research projects with other social and natural scientists is also emphasised by Crate. These projects should adopt a multiple-stressors perspective, incorporate ideas of adaptive learning, produce policy-relevant insights, and connect findings to the more general issue of community sustainability.

Jerstad asserts that there are several reasons why anthropologists often avoid discussing the topic of climate change, including a reluctance to engage politically, which climate change may require, the requirement for academic anthropology to engage with the "hard" sciences and "development," which may present difficulties, etc. Despite the resistance, according to Jerstad, anthropologists need to consider and situate themselves in relation to the developing field of climatology. As a result of anthropology's involvement, issues that people face that can be assumed to be caused by climate change, such as droughts, floods, storms, and more subtle meteorological changes, can be given academic credibility. This will allow governments, corporations, and other bodies to act and change policy in favour of the average person.

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