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Cronon: Ch. 8 That Wilderness Should Turn to Mart ISS 310 Spring 2002 Prof. Alan Rudy 2-5-02 Main Ideas:

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Presentation on theme: "Cronon: Ch. 8 That Wilderness Should Turn to Mart ISS 310 Spring 2002 Prof. Alan Rudy 2-5-02 Main Ideas:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Cronon: Ch. 8 That Wilderness Should Turn to Mart ISS 310 Spring 2002 Prof. Alan Rudy 2-5-02 Main Ideas:

2 Three paragraph book summary, pp. 159-160 n Problems of comparing two points in time, noting one overarching change in nature-society- politics-economy and attributing the difference between time A and time B to that change. n But scientists do this all the time. Isn’t duration one of the key components of scientific analysis? n Aren’t rate determining steps (the slowest one on a series) always important in chemistry, esp. catalytic chemistry as elements form compounds?

3 Continued: n In addition to duration, what else is absolutely central to scientific experimentation? F control groups. F isolation of one difference between the control and experimental groups. F reproducibility

4 More: n In the social – and usually in the ecological – sciences there is not only no control, but there is no isolation AND every experiment of any meaningful scope is unique. This is true because u 1) when you give the results of a social scientific experiment to the experimental subjects they then change how they act and u 2) each ecosystem is utterly and completely unique – esp. in its temporal and spatial characteristics and within a changing holistic milieu.

5 1600-1800 n What is the variable that Cronon says is most likely to be used to differentiate the social ecology of New England in 1600 from that of 1800? u English Colonialism or Capitalism n What is his critique of this simplification? u “it obscures the actual processes of ecological and economic change.” (161)

6 1600-1800 II n CRONON: the English brought and caused many things difficult to categorize as rooted in capitalism. u diseases and their demographic, cultural, and economic consequences u livestock, intended for commodity markets but that’s not to say all the consequences are directly related to that intent. n the same for grain production and forestry

7 Commentary: n RUDY: Cronon calls capitalism “expanding markets” and “trade” but suggests (at the same time) that “it was precisely those markets and relationships” that were themselves “being transformed in the transition to capitalism.” (162) u the question is: If capitalism is expanding markets and trade, but expanding markets and trade were changed into capitalism, isn’t this contradictory – or at least circular?

8 Commentary II n Another question is: Is capitalism expanding market and trade or is it something else? If it is something else then what is it? n The key, however, is that “Economic and ecological imperialism reinforced each other.” (162)

9 Back to Cronon: n “by making the arrival of the Europeans the center of our analysis, we run the risk of attributing all change to their agency and none to the Indians.” (164) u What does he argue is true about the Indian response? F “shrewd mixture of economic self- interest and cultural adjustment” (163) F restructured Indian alliances (when pro-colonist and when anti-colonist) u What does this sound like these days?

10 Cronon Quote: n “There is no inherent reason to believe that the Indians could not have made far more dramatic adjustments than they did to their new ecological circumstances…. That they generally did not do so must be attributed in part to their own choice and in part to the English refusal – whether enforced by violence or by law – to let them do so.”

11 Commentary on quote n What has Cronon failed to address in the previous quote? n What does “choice” mean in this context? n What does “refusal” mean in this context? n What about the diseases he spent so much time on did the Indians choose?

12 Quote II: n “Even after we have admitted the multicausal quality of the European institutions transferred to the New World, even after we have acknowledged the autonomous agency of the Indians in meeting the challenges those new institutions posed, we are still confronted with a regional ecology which in 1800 bore fundamentally new relationships to other parts of the world.” (165)

13 Natural Resources? n “a natural ‘resource’ cannot exist without some intervening human agency which defines it…” (165) n the social and ecological outcomes which result from seeing resources as opportunities for local consumption, as opposed to being potential commodities for accumulation (whether hoarding or profit) are quite different (as are the consequences of hoarding vs. profit.)

14 Needs: n there is a radically different understanding of “needs” under each system… human needs are not natural? u local, limited, immediate needs – usufruct (more resources, fewer needs) u global, unlimited, perpetual needs – commodities (fewer resources, more needs)

15 Needs II n the important thing, from Cronon is that colonial New England did not possess the structures of needs in 1600 that it had in 1800 (revolutionized again by 1900, 2000, and 2001). u most colonists were partially self- provisioning and partially market- oriented. n at best, by 1800, the New England economy was one of manufacture, not industrial capitalism.

16 Needs, Value and Scarcity: n Cronon repeatedly has pointed out how the ecological scarcity of England was reproduced in New England, despite New England’s remarkable abundance at the time of settlement.

17 Needs, Value and Scarcity II n He points out in this chapter that it is the approach to (expanded) need satisfaction through commodities that is in part responsible for the resource scarcities of 1800. n It is the scarcity of labor, given commodified need satisfaction and rich environments, that is in part responsible for the resource scarcities of 1800. n He says: “Returns to labor were so high in America precisely because returns to land were so low.” (169) THIS IS NOT MULTI- CAUSAL ENOUGH.

18 Two Contradictions: n Two ecological contradictions. u The conflict between Indian and Colonial land uses. u The destructive land uses of the Colonists. n If these are the roots of the US, what have we done to eliminate these contradictions today?

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