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Categories and ContextsAnthropological and Historical Studies in Critical Demography$
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Simon Szreter, Hania Sholkamy, and A. Dharmalingam

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199270576

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0199270570.001.0001

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

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

(p.322) 17 Demography's Ecological Frontier: Rethinking the ‘Nature’ of the Household and Community
Categories and Contexts

Brian Greenberg

Margaret E. Greene

Oxford University Press

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

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