By Marvin Harris
During this great and profound learn the prestigious American anthropologist Marvin Harris exhibits how the unending forms of cultural habit -- usually so confusing firstly look -- should be defined as variations to specific ecological stipulations. His target is to account for the evolution of cultural kinds as Darwin accounted for the evolution of organic kinds: to teach how cultures undertake their attribute types in line with altering ecological modes.
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Extra resources for Cannibals and Kings
Oco rivers, where the first European explorers encountered villages of 500 to 1000 people and continuous rows of houses lining the banks for five miles at a stretch. If, as Chagnon claims, there is an abundance of land and game, why has overall density and village size among the Yanomamo remained so low? The difference cannot be blamed on warfare itself, since mainstream peoples were if anything even·more bellicose than those who live in the forests. Donald Lathrap has cogently argued that all groups who live away from the main rivers, like the Yanomamo, are the 'wreckage' of more evolved societies 'forced off the flood plains into less favourable environments'.
Band and village peoples are perfectly capable of understanding that the number of mouths to be fed is determined by the number of women in the group. But it is difficult for theii). to limit the number of females in favour of males, because in other regards . women are more valuable than men. After all; women can do most of the things. that men. can do, and they alone can bear and nurse infants. Except for their long-range contribution to the population problem, women are in fact a better cost/ ~nefit bargain than are men.
At dawn the two groups lined up on opposite sides of the clearing. Hostilities began with some old men shouting out their grievances at one another. Two or three individuals were singled out for special attention. Hence when spears began to be thrown, they were thrown by individuals for reason,s based on individual disputes. Since the old men did most of the spear throwing, marksmanship tended to be highly inaccurate. Not infrequently the person hit was some innocent noncombatant or one of the screaming old women who weaved through the fighting men, yelling obscenities at everybqdy, and whose reflexes for dodging spears were not as fast as those of the men ...
Cannibals and Kings by Marvin Harris