Resilient Networks and and the Historical Ecology of Q'eqchi' Maya Swidden Agriculture

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/195686
Title:
Resilient Networks and and the Historical Ecology of Q'eqchi' Maya Swidden Agriculture
Author:
Downey, Sean S.
Issue Date:
2009
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Despite the fact that swidden agriculture has been the subject of decades of research, questions remain about the extent to which it is constrained by demographic growth and if it can adapt to environmental limits. In this dissertation I analyze ethnographic and ethnohistorical evidence from the Toledo District, Belize, and suggest that Q'eqchi' Maya swidden agriculture may be more ecologically adaptive than previously thought. I use social network analysis to examine farmer labor exchange networks from a chronosequence of five villages where swidden is used. Results suggest that changes in land-use patterns, network structure, and reciprocity rates may increase the system's resilience to changes in the forest's agricultural productivity. I develop a novel interpretation of labor reciprocity that highlights how unreciprocated exchanges, when they occur within the context of a social network, may limit overexploitation of a common property resource. These results are then interpreted in the context of panarchy theory; I suggest that the structural variability observed in labor exchange networks may explain how Q'eqchi' swidden maintains its identity under changing environmental conditions - a definition of resilience. Thus, the resulting picture of Q'eqchi' swidden is one of socioecological resilience rather than homeostasis; dynamic labor exchange networks help maintain a village's social cohesion, ultimately limiting pioneer settlements and slowing overall rates of deforestation. A historical and demographic analysis of market incursions into southern Belize supports this conclusion.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Belize; Ecological anthropology; Q'eqchi' Maya; Resilience; Social network analysis; Swidden agriculture
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Anthropology; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Lansing, J. Stephen

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleResilient Networks and and the Historical Ecology of Q'eqchi' Maya Swidden Agricultureen_US
dc.creatorDowney, Sean S.en_US
dc.contributor.authorDowney, Sean S.en_US
dc.date.issued2009en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractDespite the fact that swidden agriculture has been the subject of decades of research, questions remain about the extent to which it is constrained by demographic growth and if it can adapt to environmental limits. In this dissertation I analyze ethnographic and ethnohistorical evidence from the Toledo District, Belize, and suggest that Q'eqchi' Maya swidden agriculture may be more ecologically adaptive than previously thought. I use social network analysis to examine farmer labor exchange networks from a chronosequence of five villages where swidden is used. Results suggest that changes in land-use patterns, network structure, and reciprocity rates may increase the system's resilience to changes in the forest's agricultural productivity. I develop a novel interpretation of labor reciprocity that highlights how unreciprocated exchanges, when they occur within the context of a social network, may limit overexploitation of a common property resource. These results are then interpreted in the context of panarchy theory; I suggest that the structural variability observed in labor exchange networks may explain how Q'eqchi' swidden maintains its identity under changing environmental conditions - a definition of resilience. Thus, the resulting picture of Q'eqchi' swidden is one of socioecological resilience rather than homeostasis; dynamic labor exchange networks help maintain a village's social cohesion, ultimately limiting pioneer settlements and slowing overall rates of deforestation. A historical and demographic analysis of market incursions into southern Belize supports this conclusion.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectBelizeen_US
dc.subjectEcological anthropologyen_US
dc.subjectQ'eqchi' Mayaen_US
dc.subjectResilienceen_US
dc.subjectSocial network analysisen_US
dc.subjectSwidden agricultureen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAnthropologyen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairLansing, J. Stephenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberLansing, J. Stephenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberKuhn, Steven L.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberPark, Thomas K.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSheridan, Thomas E.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWilk, RIchard R.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest10768en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659753610en_US
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