Bad Year Economics: Cultural Responses to Risk and Uncertainty (New Directions in Archaeology): Paul Halstead, John O’Shea

Bad Year Economics explores the role of risk and uncertainty in human economics within an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural framework.

Drawing on archaeology, anthropology, and ancient and modern history, the contributors range widely in time and space across hunting, farming and pastoralism, across ancient states, empires, and modern nation states. The aim, however, is a common one: to analyse in each case the structure of variability – particularly with regard to food supply – and review the range of responses offered by individual human communities.

These responses commonly exploit various forms of mobility, economic diversification, storage, and exchange to deploy local or temporary abundance as a defence against shortage. Different levels of response are used at different levels of risk. Their success is fundamental to human survival and their adoption has important ramifications throughout cultural behaviour.

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