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Grassroots modernization: pastoral economies, climate, and political change in Iceland's 18th though 20th centuries

Author(s): Megan Hicks ; Viðar Hreinsson ; Árni Daniel Júliússon ; Astrid Ogilvie ; Ragnhildur Sigurðardóttir

Year: 2017

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The intersecting tensions among Iceland's hay cultivation, livestock productivity, and climate have a long history and a significant influence on both political discourse and local knowledge production. In the 18th century, Iceland was assessed by its Danish colonial government as being a marginally productive region in terms of its significant rural surpluses. Even in spite of producing some surplus, the country struggled with periodic famines until the late 19th century. These events and perspectives were produced in the context of a highly variable climate which at times severely impacted grass growth and the hay harvest. However, in our study area, the Mývatn region, farmers ecologically re- structured their upland, wetland landscape and surpassed perceived limitations on grass and livestock productivity. These shifts were enmeshed with significant social change; a transition away from feudal style governance and toward participation in capitalist free markets. This collaborative interdisciplinary research synthesizes archaeological data, historical documentary evidence, primary sources of ecological information, and climate data in order to understand these deliberate cultural and ecological changes.

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Grassroots modernization: pastoral economies, climate, and political change in Iceland's 18th though 20th centuries. Megan Hicks, Viðar Hreinsson, Árni Daniel Júliússon, Astrid Ogilvie, Ragnhildur Sigurðardóttir. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430268)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13192

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America