Ecological Aspects of Southwestern Society

340 words | 2 page(s)

Before Julian Steward, anthropology was primarily based on cultural aspects. However, the work of Julian Steward expanded anthropology by introducing ecological aspects. Thus, this created a new research area known as Cultural Ecology. The influence of Julian Steward was felt throughout the 1950s to 60s and helped to diversify and expand the field of anthropology (Moore 211). In one of his earlier works, Julian Steward redefined the origins of Southwestern society by not only focusing on the cultural aspects but by applying economical aspects to determine the origins and classify individual groups (87).

In this work, Steward argues that origins of Southwestern society can only be fully understood by the incorporation of ecological and economic factors (88). While cultural factors partially explain origins, they do not explain why groups of the unrelated individual’s band together. By applying this theoretical framework, Southwestern Societies are re-examined (Steward 87). Within this framework, the terms of Clan, Patrilineal band, Bilateral band, and Matrilineal band, are defined and applied to the different Southwestern Societies (Steward 89). By applying this framework Steward argues that in Southern California the tribes can be defined as patrilineal bands, meaning that it is from a single Patrilineal line but has several households.
In contrast, Steward argues that in the Pueblo area, because of the development of an economy surrounding basket weaving, that these tribes can be classified as clans (99). While some researchers argue that the clans are Matrilineal, due to lack of verifiable evidence, it is impossible to make this classification (Steward 100). In addition, other tribes within the Southwestern geographic area are also analyzed and classified based on this economic framework (Steward1 01). In conclusion, based on the arguments and evidence presented by Steward, the combination of cultural factors with economic factors can lead to a better understanding of the origins of Southwestern Societies, compared to solely using cultural factors to explain Clans, Patrilineal and Matrilineal bands (102).

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  • Moore, Jerry D. Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists. Rowman Altamira, 2000.
  • Steward, Julian H. “Ecological Aspects of Southwestern Society.” Anthropos, no. H. 1./2, 1937, pp. 87-104.

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