Limited Wants, Unlimited Means

Limited Wants, Unlimited Means

A Reader On Hunter-Gatherer Economics And The Environment

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Edited by John Gowdy

378 pages pages | 6 X 9

For roughly 99% of their existence on earth, Homo sapiens lived in small bands of semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, finding everything they needed to survive and thrive in the biological richness that surrounded them. Most if not all of the problems that threaten our own technologically advanced society -- from depletion of natural capital to the ever-present possibility of global annihilation -- would be inconceivable to these traditional, immediate-return societies. In fact, hunter-gatherer societies appear to have solved problems of production, distribution, and social and environmental sustainability that our own culture seems incapable of addressing.

Limited Wants, Unlimited Means examines the hunter-gatherer society and lifestyle from a variety of perspectives. It provides a brief introduction to the rich anthropological and sociological literature on non-agricultural societies, bringing together in one volume seminal writings on the few remaining hunter-gatherer cultures including, the !Kung, the Hadza, and the Aborigines. It examines the economics of traditional societies, and concludes with a multifaceted investigation of how such societies function and what they can teach us in our own quest for environmental sustainability and social equality.

Limited Wants, Unlimited Means is an important work for students of cultural anthropology, economic anthropology, environmental studies, and sustainable development, as well as for professionals, researchers, and anyone interested in prehistoric societies, environmental sustainability, or social justice.


A Note From The Editor

Introduction - Back To The Future And Forward To The Past

PART I. Original Affluent Societies

Chapter 1. The Original Affluent Society

Chapter 2. What Hunters Do For A Living, Or, How To Make Out On Scarce Resources

Chapter 3. Sharing, Talking, And Giving: Relief Of Social Tensions Among The !kung

Chapter 4. Egalitarian Societies

PART II. The Original Affluent Society: Assessment And Extensions

Chapter 5. Beyond ''the Original Affluent Society''?: A Culturalist Reformulation

Chapter 6. Women's Status In Egalitarian Society: Implications For Social Evolution

Chapter 7. Art, Science, Or Politics? The Crisis In Hunter-gatherer Studies

Chapter 8. The Future Of Hunter-gatherer Research

PART III. Hunter''"gatherers And Visions Of The Future

Chapter 9. The Transformation Of The Kalahari !kung

Chapter 10. So Varied In Detail''"so Similar In Outline

Chapter 11. Future Primitive

Chapter 12. A Post-historic Primitivism

About The Contributors


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378 pages pages | 6 X 9
publication year: 
1 997