Nature–culture divide

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The nature–culture divide refers to a theoretical foundation of contemporary anthropology. Early[clarification needed] anthropologists sought theoretical insight from the perceived tensions between nature and culture. Later, the argument became framed by the question of whether the two entities function separately from one another, or if they were in a continuous biotic relationship with each other.

In eastern society nature and culture are conceptualized as dichotomous (separate and distinct domains of reference). Some consider culture to be "man's secret adaptive weapon"[1]:393 in the sense that it is the core means of survival. It has been observed that the terms "nature" and "culture" that can not necessarily be translated into non-western languages,[2] for example, the Native American John Mohawk[year needed] describing "nature"[clarification needed] as "anything that supports life".[3]

It has been suggested that small scale-societies can have a more symbiotic relationship with nature[by whom?]. But less symbiotic relations with nature are limiting small-scale communities' access to water and food resources.[3] It was also argued that the contemporary Man-Nature divide manifests itself in different aspects of alienation and conflicts.[4] Greenwood and Stini argue that agriculture is only monetarily cost-efficient because it takes much more to produce than one can get out of eating their own crops,[1]:397 e.g. "high culture cannot come at low energy costs".[5]

During the 1960s and 1970s Sherry Ortner showed the parallel between the divide and gender roles with women as nature and men as culture.[6]

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  1. ^ a b Greenwood, David J and William A. Stini (1977) Nature, Culture, and Human History, New York: Harper and Row, 393–408
  2. ^ Strathern 1980
  3. ^ a b Nelson, Melissa K., 2008, Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future, Rochester: Collective Heritage Institute
  4. ^ Bakari, Mohamed El-Kamel (2014). "Sustainability and Contemporary Man-Nature Divide: Aspects of Conflict, Alienation, and Beyond", Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development 13(1), 125-146.
  5. ^ Braun and Castree 1998
  6. ^ Sherry Ortner (1972) Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?, Feminist Studies 1(2): 5-31

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