The End of Pre-History

Environmental Epistemology in the Lower Ohio River Valley
Center for American Indian Studies Programs
American Indian Studies Seminar Series
Thursday, December 2, 2010

5:30 - 6:30 pm

TFL

Joshua Jeffers, Purdue University

By examining the ways in which behavior and perception—culture—maintain a dynamic, reciprocally constitutive relationship with the environment, this essay attempts to bring cultural history into closer negotiation with scientific analyses of environmental development.  As landscapes set parameters and physical contingencies, culture assigns meanings and continually infuses a space with significance.  In the Lower Ohio Valley, this process has left striking remnants to which the many mound complexes and “barrens” found in this region attest.  By attempting something like a “thick description” of the environment and human environmental use patterns of this region, this essay explores the extent to which a more complex understanding of space and place can provide insight into not only land use patterns and agricultural regimes, but also environmental epistemology and the socio-cultural internalization of ecological realities.

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