E-Lunches – Discussions highlighting ecological and environmental anthropology and related topics

Join students and faculty in the Department of Anthropology for our monthly E-Lunch series!  E-Lunches are informal brown bag lunch discussions, featuring different topics and presenters each month that focus on ecological and environmental themes.  The intent of the series is to foster a relaxed discussion space to share current work, solicit feedback, and promote communication and collaboration within and outside of anthropology.  E-Lunches are open to all to attend and typically take place on Wednesdays from noon to 1 in 1102 Woods Hall (click here for the full schedule).

New for the 2016-2017 school year, E-Lunches are going electronic!  Using Adobe Connect, we will open up E-Lunches to those who may not be able to attend in person. To keep in the spirit of the informal discussion, attendance will only be possible in real-time – presentations and discussions will only be available through a live webinar (and in person attendance) and will not be stored permanently online for later viewing.  

If you have any E-Lunch related questions, please contact Adriane Michaelis (amichael@umd.edu).

Upcoming E-Lunch: February 22nd
February’s E-Lunch features a presentation from Kevin Gibbons (UMD, Department of Anthropology).  Kevin will be sharing some of his dissertation research, using an archaeological approach to understand livestock management decisions in response to environmental change in Iceland.  To attend via webinar, use the following link: https://webmeeting.umd.edu/februaryelunch/.

Biometrical Approaches to the Icelandic Palaeoanthropocene: Integrating Livestock and Landscapes on the Periphery
Kevin Gibbons, University of Maryland Department of Anthropology

Zooarchaeological evidence is key to recognizing pre-industrial human impacts on past environments. As archaeologists increasingly contribute to research and policy discussions on the challenges of contemporary climate change, the concept of local ‘palaeoanthropocenes’ provides a framework to explore the diffuse, asynchronous, and substantial human impacts on regional environments occurring between the early Holocene and the Industrial Revolution. Faunal remains of domesticated livestock, as a nexus of environmental, cultural, and biological factors, represent proxy records at the ‘human scale’ of years and decades that compliments the centennial scale of other palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatological archives. Advances in biometry suggest the utility of investigating relationships between livestock management strategies and landscape change. This paper examines trends in livestock management across the Scandinavian world from the ninth to eighteenth centuries and engages with geomorphological data to explore the use of animal remains in recognizing abrupt transitions between contrasting land surface states. Iceland, in particular, offers a unique setting to explore the relationship between vegetation cover and livestock morphometrics thanks to existing regional tephrochronological records. Biometrical data offer new insights on the impacts that livestock grazing had on vegetation cover and the resulting nutritional stresses on stock animals as landscapes flickered between alternative stable states as a potential precursor to crossing an erosional threshold. Were livestock managed at the expense of losing natural capital through soil erosion? Understanding these management decisions allows us to engage with larger issues of climate change, environmental conservation, and sustainable resource management systems.