Civilized nations popularly assume that “primitive” societies are poor, ill, and malnourished and that progress through civilization automatically implies improved health. In this provocative new book, Mark Nathan Cohen challenges this belief. Using evidence from epidemiology, anthropology, and archaeology, Cohen provides fascinating evidence about the actual effects of civilization on health, suggesting that some aspects of civilization create as many health problems as they prevent or cure. “[This book] is certain to become a classic-a prominent and respected source on this subject for years into the future. . . .
If you want to read something that will make you think, reflect and reconsider, Cohen’s Health and the Rise of Civilization is for you.”-S. Boyd Eaton, Los Angeles Times Book Review “A major accomplishment. Cohen is a broad and original thinker who states his views in direct and accessible prose. . . . This is a book that should be read by everyone interested in disease, civilization, and the human condition.”-David Courtwright, Journal of the History of Medicine “Deserves to be read by anthropologists concerned with health, medical personnel responsible for communities, and any medical anthropologists whose minds are not too case-hardened. Indeed, it could provide great profit and entertainment to the general reader.”-George T. Nurse, Current Anthropology “Cohen has done his homework extraordinarily well, and the coverage of the biomedical, nutritional, demographic, and ethnographic literature about foragers and low energy agriculturists is excellent.
The subject of culture and health is near the core of a lot of areas of archaeology and ethnology as well as demography, development economics, and so on. The book deserves a wide readership and a central place in our professional libraries. As a scholarly summary it is without parallel.”-Henry Harpending, American Ethnologist
Malaria and Rome is the first comprehensive book on the history of malaria in Roman Italy. Aimed at an interdisciplinary readership, it explores the evolution and ecology of malaria, its medical and demographic effects on human populations in antiquity, its social and economic effects, the human responses to it, and the human interpretations of it.
Dr. Michael Mann, Earth System Science Center-Penn State University/Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change (2nd edition) joins Thom. The oceans are literally starving now. Plus the Fires in Canada – Is this a preview of what the future will look like if we don’t do something right now to stop climate change?
Ligon’s True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados is the most significant book-length English text written about the Caribbean in the seventeenth century. [It] allows one to see the contested process behind the making of the Caribbean sugar/African slavery complex. Kupperman is one of the leading scholars of the early modern Atlantic world. . . . I cannot think of any scholar better prepared to write an Introduction that places Ligon, his text, and Barbados in an Atlantic historical context. The Introduction is quite thorough, readable, and accurate; the notes [are] exemplary! –Susan Parrish, University of Michigan
This lavishly illustrated volume is the first systematic general work to do justice to the fruits of recent scholarship in the history of natural history. Public interest in this lively field has been stimulated by environmental concerns and through links with the histories of art, collecting and gardening. Twenty-four essays, written at an accessible level, cover the period from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The book includes suggestions for further reading, and highlights the relevance of history for current debates on museum practice, ecological diversity, and the environment.
100 Questions (and Answers) About Qualitative Research, by Lisa M. Given, addresses the practical decisions that researchers must make in their work, from the design of the study, through ethics approval, implementation, and writing. The book’s quick-scan, question-and-answer format make it ideal as a supplementary text or as a ready reference for graduate students preparing for comprehensive exams and writing research proposals, undergraduates in affiliated programs who will not be taking a primary course in qualitative research methods, and researchers working across disciplines in academic or practice environments.
The greatest mysteries have a shadowy figure at the center—someone who sets things in motion and holds the key to how the story unfolds. In epidemiology, this central character is known as Patient Zero—the case at the heart of an outbreak. This hour, Radiolab hunts for Patient Zeroes from all over the map.
We start with the story of perhaps the most iconic Patient Zero of all time: Typhoid Mary. Then, we dive into a molecular detective story to pinpoint the beginning of the AIDS, and we re-imagine the moment the virus that caused the global pandemic sprang to life. After that, we’re left wondering if you can trace the spread of an idea the way you can trace the spread of a disease. In the end, we find ourselves faced with a choice between competing claims about the origin of the high five. And we come to a perfectly sensible, thoroughly disturbing conclusion about the nature of the universe … all by way of the cowboy hat.
This commentary examines how agricultural and forestry practices of the ancient Greeks and Romans caused an environmental disaster in the Mediterranean region that undermined both civilizations.
By Anne and Paul Ehrlich
The Mediterranean Basin, once a rich end self-sustaining region, has steadily deteriorated since the time of the Greeks and Romans. Overgrazing by domesticated goats was one of the reasons.
PHOTO: PAUL B. EHRLICH
We recently had an opportunity to visit the Mediterranean region and to see for ourselves the present state of this former “Eden” which was the cradle of Western civilization. Our overall impression was that the once rich area is now a badly deteriorated land inhabited by relatively impoverished peoples who, today, are partly dependent for their survival on the influx of tourists coming to see the physical monuments of past civilizations.
The region’s decline from ancient glory has been a complex process, but a major element in the “fall” has been the failure—on the part of the area’s residents—to maintain the ecological systems that supported their rich cultures.
The process began with the marvelous Mesopotamian civilization, which produced the world’s first cities in the area watered by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The society depended utterly on a complex irrigation system that—along with the invention of the plow—allowed its farmers to extract more food from the rich soil than was required for their own families. The resultant surplus made the development of urban centers possible.
In this dramatically revised and expanded second edition of the work entitled Pan’s Travail, J. Donald Hughes examines the environmental history of the classical period and argues that the decline of ancient civilizations resulted in part from their exploitation of the natural world. Focusing on Greece and Rome, as well as areas subject to their influences, Hughes offers a detailed look at the impact of humans and their technologies on the ecology of the Mediterranean basin.
Evidence of deforestation in ancient Greece, the remains of Roman aqueducts and mines, and paintings on centuries-old pottery that depict agricultural activities document ancient actions that resulted in detrimental consequences to the environment. Hughes compares the ancient world’s environmental problems to other persistent social problems and discusses attitudes toward nature expressed in Greek and Latin literature.
In addition to extensive revisions based on the latest research, this new edition includes photographs from Hughes’s worldwide excursions, a new chapter on warfare and the environment, and an updated bibliography.
A pioneering study in historical population biology, this book offers the first comprehensive ecological history of the ancient Greek world. It proposes a new model for treating the relationship between the population and the land, centering on the distribution and abundance of living organisms.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
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