Dialectic in Historical Ecology

Author(s): William Marquardt

Year: 2016


It has been my privilege to call Carole Crumley a friend for 44 years. Our experiences working together in Burgundy, France in the 1970s and 1980s were formative to my research perspective in historical ecology, a perspective to which Carole herself has been a major contributor. Historical ecology is the multiscalar and multitemporal study of the dynamic relations between people and their environment. But “environment” is more than the sum total of one’s physical surroundings. As perceived by humans, environment is always cognized and often mystified, and it is subject to interpretation and reinterpretation based on spiritual beliefs, vested economic interests, and power relations. Therefore the historical study of human-environment relations cannot be separated from the study of social, economic, and political relations. For both Carole and me, dialectical method has always been an essential part of historical-ecological investigation, but it is sometimes poorly represented or missing altogether from studies today regarded as historical ecology. A dialectical approach can enrich historical-ecological understandings and help to resolve differences among contemporary scholars who focus variously on agency, materiality, landscape, monumentality, and relational (animic) ontology.

Cite this Record

Dialectic in Historical Ecology. William Marquardt. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403718)