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Robustness and Large-Scale Change in Social-Ecological Systems: The Hohokam of the Phoenix Basin

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Anderies, John M.
Conference: Workshop on the Workshop 3
Location: Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Conf. Date: June 2-6, 2004
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6485
Sector: History
Social Organization
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: North America
Subject(s): rivers
human-environment interaction--history
Native Americans
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "Societies frequently generate public infrastructure and institutional arrangements in order to mediate short-term environmental fluctuations. However, the social and ecological consequences of activities directed at dealing with short-term disturbances may increase the vulnerability of the system to infrequent events or to long-term change in patterns of short-term variability. Exploring this possibility requires the study of long-term, transformational change. The archaeological record provides many examples of long-term change, such as the Hohokam of the Phoenix Basin. The Hohokam occupied the Phoenix Basin for over a thousand years and developed a complex irrigation society. In the 14th century, Hohokam society experienced a reduction in complexity and scale possibly associated with regional climatic events. A framework for exploring robustness in coupled social-ecological systems is briefly presented and applied to the Hohokam Cultural Sequence. The possibility that the success of the Hohokam irrigation system and associated social structure may have increased their vulnerability to rare climactic shocks such as those that occurred in the 14th century will be explored."

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