Re: Four fields and teaching intro courses

Mike Salovesh (t20mxs1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Tue, 4 Apr 1995 00:21:44 -0500

I don't know anything about Darlington having suggested that women
invented horticulture. It escapes me entirely.

It's convenient to distinguish horticulture from agriculture. (Yehudi
Cohen convinced me of that, in MAN IN ADAPTATION.) What I mean by Ag is
planting with what science-fictioneers call "terraforming": irrigation,
or terraces, or substituting plows for digging sticks, all processes that
reflect "man's role in changing the face of the earth" (to cite a book
title from the 1950's). Yes, I know: Whaddya mean, MAN's role? I take
no responsibility for somebody else's book title out of the past. It
sure is fun to cite it as part of my personal collection of the artefacts
of sexism in anthropology, though. (Or maybe it isn't? See below.)

There's nothing intrinsically outrageous in thinking that women may have
been responsible for the food-producing revolution. IF there's any truth
in our traditional stereotype of "man the hunter, woman the gatherer" it
sure as hell makes sense. What might be interesting to take up with Patty
Jo is the question of whether, how, and why the shift from horticulture to
agriculture might have marked a shift from gynocentric to androcentric
food-producing. The kind of largescale social organization necessary to
do terraforming sounds like men getting into the act--but again I'm
talking stereotypes.

Trouble is, although the question as I pose it makes some kind of serious
anthropological sense, raising a spectre of shifting from gynocentric to
androcentric food planting comes dangerously close to affirming totally
unsubstantiated New Age myths about shifting from Goddess-based cultures
to the God of the Old Testament. Most of what I've heard along those
lines is as close to total crap as I ever want to get.

But I say that with a great deal of trepidation: I don't want to start
any new flame wars. Which is why I said "Most of what I've heard", not
"All of what I've heard".

-- mike salovesh <>

================== Responding to ========================

On Mon, 3 Apr 1995, Ruby Rohrlich wrote (IN PART):
> WGBH Boston PBS announced a 6-part series "Discovering Women," with
> Patty Jo Watson'segment airing on April 5 at l0 p.m. ET. The AN
> writes: <snip> "Described by her graduate students as 'the most
> positive role models imaginable,' Watson has found evidence to dispel
> the myth that women are not innovators. Watson and Mary Kennedy
> (Washington-St.Louis) have proposed a provocative new theory about
> gender roles and the origins of agriculture -- that women, not men,
> invented farming." It seems to me that Darlington said something
> like that years ago . . . <snip> Ruby Rohrlich