Table of Contents

A Handbook of Economic Anthropology

A Handbook of Economic Anthropology

Elgar original reference

Edited by James G. Carrier

This unique Handbook contains substantial and invaluable summary discussions of work on economic processes and issues, and on the relationship between economic and non-economic areas of life. Furthermore it describes conceptual orientations that are important among economic anthropologists, and presents summaries of key issues in the anthropological study of economic life in different regions of the world. Its scope and accessibility make it useful both to those who are interested in a particular topic and to those who want to see the breadth and fruitfulness of an anthropological study of economics.

Chapter 23: Environment and Economy: Mutual Connections and Diverse Perspectives

Eric Hirsch

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, economic psychology, methodology of economics, social policy and sociology, research methods in social policy, sociology and sociological theory


Eric Hirsch This chapter is divided into four sections. The first briefly introduces the historical legacy of two Western doctrines that have informed the anthropological study of environment and economy. These are the Lockean doctrine of property and the ascendancy of quantitative over qualitative measurement. The second section focuses, then, on measurement and value. Here it is argued that the way people assess their relations with one another is through the artefacts they create and value, where ‘artefacts’ are the environment as much as more conventional economic things. In this way there is a mutual connection between environment and economy often not appreciated by anthropology. The third section reviews some of the entities that anthropologists have examined when they have considered the environment. Three related entities are identified as imparting a distinct form to the mutual connections of environment and economy: place, boundary and map. The fourth section considers three case studies that take up the mutual relations of place, boundary and map, as well as illustrating the connections of environment and economy. In a brief conclusion it is noted that the case studies also highlight the contests of quantitative- and qualitative-oriented perspectives on environment and economy in specific contexts, as studied by anthropology. Historical legacies An anthropological perspective on environment and economy is difficult to separate from two doctrines that took shape in Western European societies during the early modern period (compare Porter 1999: 424). One is the philosophy of property and political society derived from John Locke. This...

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