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Infields, Outfields, and Broken Lands

Agricultural intensification and the ordering of space during Danish state formation
  • Tina L. Thurston
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 3)

Abstract

Even before the advent of the well-known “prime mover” theories of the 20th century (i.e. Wittfogel 1957, Boserup 1965) fired the imaginations of contemporaneous archaeologists, scholars had long been asking questions about the connections between political power, agricultural intensification, and economics. While enthusiasm for these ideas has faded, there is still an active debate about the role of state governments in what archaeologists interpret as intensification attempts, and all the ramifications — social, political and economic — that may be inferred from them. Despite some earlier calls for a deeper look into the causes and consequences of intensification (i.e. Bender 1978), until the 1990s, a fairly simple line was usually drawn, connecting large agricultural “improvement projects” and the idea of top-down directives from authoritarian rulers. Even with a continuing accumulation of contradictory data, many researchers continued to assert that only those who could see from the top of a “pyramid” — both literally and figuratively — could have the perspective to organize and plan such complex undertakings. More recently, several authors have called this into question — while some cases surely illustrate the power of elites to demand or support increased production, in other cases, both labor and organization can be traced to farmers and farming communities, who turn out to be fairly capable of both creating and maintaining large, complicated systems of terracing, irrigation, land reclamation, and other laborious intensification schemes (Erickson 1993, Frederick, this volume, Lansing & Kremer 1993). This has led some researchers to replace the top-down assumption with a generalized skepticism about the extent of elite authority in organizing agricultural intensification.

Keywords

Central Authority Cultural Landscape Agricultural Intensification Consolidation Phase Village Territory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tina L. Thurston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyState University of New York at BuffaloBuffalo

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