Communal-level resource management successes and failures comprise complex interactions that involve local, regional, and (increasingly) global scale political, economic, and environmental changes, shown to have recurring patterns and trajectories. The human past provides examples of long-term millennial and century-scale successes followed by undesired transitions (“collapse”), and rapid failure of collaborative management cooperation on the decadal scale. Management of scarce resources and common properties presents a critical challenge for planners attempting to avoid the "tragedy of the commons" in this century. Here, anthropologists, human ecologists, archaeologists, and environmental scientists discuss strategies for social well-being in the context of diminishing resources and increasing competition.The contributors in this volume revisit “tragedy of the commons” (also referred to as “drama” or “comedy” of the commons) and examine new data and theories to mitigate pressures and devise models for sustainable communal welfare and development. They present twelve archaeological, historic, and ethnographic cases of user-managed resources to demonstrate that very basic community-level participatory governance can be a successful strategy to manage short-term risk and benefits. The book connects past-present-future by presenting geographically and chronologically spaced out examples of communal-level governance strategies, and overviews of the current cutting-edge research. The lesson we learn from studying past responses to various ecological stresses is that we must not wait for a disaster to happen to react, but must react to mitigate conditions for emerging disasters.
Foreword.- Introduction.- The Tragedy of the Commons: A Theoretical Update.- Who is in the Commons? Defining Community and Management Practices in Long Term Natural Resource Management.- Managing risk through cooperation: Need-based transfers and risk pooling among the societies of the Human Generosity Project.- Trolls, Water, Time, and Community: Resource Management in the Mývatn District of Northeast Iceland.- Organization of high-altitude summer pastures: the dialectics of conflict and cooperation.- Large-Scale Land Acquisition as Commons Grabbing: A comparative analysis of six African case studies.- Open Access, Open Systems: Pastoral Resource Management in the Chad Basin.- Mollusk Harvesting in the Pre-European Contact Pacific Islands: investigating Resilience and Sustainability.- Environment and Landscapes of Latin America’s Past.- Collaborative and Competitive Strategies in the Variability and Resiliency of Early Complex Societies in Mesoamerica.- The Native California Commons: Ethnographic and Archaeological Perspectives on Land Control, Resource Use, and Management.- Identifying Common Pool Resources in the Archaeological Record: A Case Study of Water Commons from the North American Southwest.
Ludomir Lozny is an adjunct faculty member at Hunter College, CUNY and principle investigator in culture resource management and environmental impact studies, with 30 years of experience in academic teaching and research. Lozny’s fieldwork is primarily in North America and Europe. His research comprises interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches and areas of expertise include archaeology, social anthropology, complex societies, social theory and methodology, sustainability, governance and management of the commons, and human and historical ecology in global perspective. He is Managing Editor of the journal Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal and coeditor of two book series, Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation and Springer Briefs in Human Ecology (with Daniel Bates), for Springer Nature. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Human Ecodynamics Research Center (HERC) at the CUNY Graduate School and University Center.
Tom McGovern is a professor with 39 years of teaching experience at the City University of New York. He coordinates the international, interdisciplinary research and education cooperative North Atlantic Biocultural Organization, and collaborates with the Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (IHOPE) teams, the Oceans Past Initiative, and the Humanities for Environment Circumpolar Observatory project. McGovern’s fieldwork centers on the North Atlantic islands (Faroes, Shetland, Orkney, Iceland, Greenland) and he has coordinated multi-investigator interdisciplinary projects bringing together hard science, social science, environmental humanities, local and traditional knowledge and education for sustainability scholars, and perspectives to engage with millennial scale human ecodynamics in this historically and environmentally critical region. He also currently serves as PI for an NSF project in Greenland.
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