Chapter

Demography's Ecological Frontier: Rethinking the ‘Nature’ of the Household and Community

Brian Greenberg and Margaret E. Greene

in Categories and Contexts

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199270576
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600883 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199270570.003.0017

Series: International Studies in Demography

Demography's Ecological Frontier: Rethinking the ‘Nature’ of the Household and Community

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The global scale of anthropogenic environmental change now challenges demography to rethink its methodologies and tacit values to assess the ways that human populations determine the population profiles and survival prospects for non‐human species and nature as a whole. Critically reviews the disciplinary basis for human‐centredness in the assessment of environmental change, and the ways this Malthusian intellectual legacy now constrains demography's ability to comment on pressing environmental issues. By demonstrating that social relationships do not stop at the boundaries of society but extend to the relationships people establish with non‐human nature, the chapter illustrates how more ecologically inclusive analytic categories can provide significant insight into environmental change in the Western Himalayas. Redefining the familiar demographic categories of ‘household’ and ‘community’ to more closely reflect local cultural understandings, the chapter links household composition to livestock ecology, and agricultural production to the history of environmental transformation in the Himalayan region. In suggesting less anthropocentric and Western culture‐centric demographic analysis, the chapter argues for models of human communities more precisely situated in their environmental contexts, and demonstrates a potentially powerful extension of demographic techniques in the explanation of landscape and environmental change.

Keywords: agricultural ecology; anthropogenic environmental change; cultural ecology; demography; environmental transformation; epistemology of; livestock ecology; Himalayas; Malthus

Chapter.  9687 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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