9781550548068 / 1550548069

The Other Side of Eden: Hunters, Farmers and the Shaping of the World


Publisher:Douglas & McIntyre



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About the book:

"The hunter-gatherer mind," writes anthropologist and filmmaker Hugh Brody, "is humanity's most sophisticated combination of detailed knowledge and intuition." Whereas an agriculturalist or, by modern extension, an industrialist takes on the task of controlling and shaping the world, of "separating manipulable resources from the rest of the environment," the hunter-gatherer recognizes that every endeavour is subject to chance and to forces--the movement of herds, changes in the weather--far beyond human control. The hunter, the nomad, consequently dispenses with planning, moves with prey and season, and reckons with the world's ambiguity and conditionality.

The modern world finds little room for such people, and hunter-gatherer groups are rapidly disappearing. Brody's wide-ranging survey, which draws heavily on his fieldwork with the Dunne-za of British Columbia and the Inuit nations of Nunavut, thus sometimes takes on the air of salvage ethnography. More than that, however, it offers a view of hunter-gatherer ways of seeing the land, of organizing knowledge, of interpreting experience, and of living from day to day. His well-crafted narrative takes the reader into alternate worlds where dreams and metaphors are taken as seriously as facts, and introduces concepts of anthropology and linguistics as it moves along. Readers who admire the work of Bruce Chatwin, Farley Mowat, and other intellectual explorers will find Brody's book rewarding. --Gregory McNamee

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