I think we can all agree that this reading has been refreshing and a much needed reprieve from the realm of scholarly speculation. It was nice to see these ideas in practice.
In regards to the non-domestication of reindeer in North America, I think it’s important to ask ourselves 1) For what purpose the reindeer was domesticated in Siberia, 2) Was that purpose relevant to the needs of the ancient North Americans, and 3) Was there another domesticate that filled the same role as the reindeer in Siberia for less effort? Also, even though I have my issues with his theory, Diamond would probably argue that the North American reindeer/caribou wasn’t domesticated because it is incapable of being domesticated.
I think this is the best reading we’ve had so far! There’s certainly a lot of different ways you can approach it, and I think the structure of your post reflects that. In regards to your comment on my blog, if I had to guess which view is more popular I would say Diamond’s–he seems pretty well respected in this field. You did bring something up that makes me think, though–how different, really, can these two strains of reindeer, that we assume evolved side by side, be? Can they be that different and still come from the same environment? My gut says no, but I’m no expert in the subject.
I think you’re absolutely correct to say that the pastoralism of the Eveny is one of, if not the defining factor in how they see the world. It seems to totally dominate their worldview. I get into that a lot in my post though so I won’t do it again here.
I think I share your opinions about the well organized and clear nature of the two smaller readings. Ingold felt so, so much more credible than Bulliet and it was refreshing.
In regards to something you said in the beginning, if this discussion were something that could be resolved by a college course, it wouldn’t be an honors colloquium. Frankly, and this is a feeling that’s been creeping up on me since we started, I don’t think that our questions regarding domestication have an answer short of going back in time and reading the minds of our ancestors. We know what we know and we don’t know what we don’t know. In other words, this discussion is a Schrodinger’s Cat Box. That’s a huge part of why Bulliet bothers me like he does and why I liked Ingold — Bulliet has an arrogance to him that makes him assert his opinions as fact and close everything else off from consideration.
I’ll leave Diamond vs Bulliet for tomorrow since I feel like it’s a very important part of the reading and I’d like to hear other people’s opinions about it before I share my own.
Someone else went off on him this time. Hooray! I noticed a lot of what you’re saying as well but chose not to mention it because I beat that horse to death last week and I’m discussion leader. In any case, I think by now we’re understanding that HHH is really Bulliet’s opinions on things and should therefore be considered with the same skepticism as you’d examine anyone’s opinion. I think that as students we’re so used to the things we read for class being fact that it’s not immediately obvious when someone else is feeding us their own ideas.
On another note, I agree with you that most species should be domesticatable (New word I just made up) eventually. It’s just a matter of resources we have today that our ancestors did not–not for a lack of trying or an inherent deficit. Our ancestors simply did not have the means to keep dangerous or flighty animals around long enough for domestication to happen.
Camilla, I absolutely agree with you, and also find the need to return to a domestic lifestyle interesting. There’s plenty to be said for what’s in our food that we don’t know about. Some say the preservatives are what causes autism, but that’s neither here nor there. All I know is that Taco Bell is delicious.
As for your comment about conservation efforts, I think that totally ties in to what we were talking about last week with endangered species. I think that we do need to be able to step back and see things in terms of populations, to recognize our own impact on those populations, and decide whether or not we should intervene. In the case of the tiger (Tigers and silkworms, I don’t know what it is about them that I like so much), the cause for the decline in their population is decidedly human intervention. Only a postdomestic society would be able to see the morality in that and make the call to conserve.
I am absolutely bothered by the parallel between the meat packing industry and the Holocaust. It would be laughable if it weren’t so horrible. The meat packing industry is a response to growing population needs that happens to involve cruelty to animals. The problem is a just one, the solution is not. Whereas the Holocaust is an unjust problem and an unjust solution. In response to your first point, I’m not sure. I think there’s a lot to be said about the exposure to sex and violence children get from external media that counters that idea. Surely in a domestic age children are exposed to the killing of and sex between animals, but how different, really, is that sort of thing from games like Call of Duty? Is violence violence? For the record, I don’t think violent videogames are an epidemic in our society, I just wish to point out that maybe the differences between domestic and postdomestic are really differences in the source of the exposure rather than the exposure itself: whether you’re getting it from media or watching it firsthand.
I think a key aspect of domestication is that one species is changed as a result of the mutualistic relationship, ala the wheat in “Guns, germs, and steel” being bred (pun intended) so that it’s more fit for human consumption. If I understand the topic correctly, domestication is a mutually beneficial relationship that also results in the changing of one species for the benefit of the other over time via some form of intentional genetic selection, like how cows can be bred to produce more milk, or horses to run faster. In the case of the ant-aphid relationship, it isn’t just that they have a mutually beneficial relationship. Some species of aphids have actually changed as a result of their interactions with ants. The question is, do those changes benefit the ants? If the answer is yes, then to me it says domestication.
I absolutely agree with you about Biotech becoming important; as a finance major, one of the things we talk about is Venture Capital–basically investors that give startup money to new companies. Recently, Biotech has been getting a ton of VC, which reflects the expectation of exactly what you just described.
I choose to respond to your question regarding genetic mutations from a quantitative POV becuase I simply don’t know enough about Biotech to answer it any other way.
I think that the reason these genetic mutants don’t exist is because I would imagine that to make something like that, if it’s even possible, would cost quite a lot of money (Seeing as it hasn’t yet happened naturally) and, frankly, there isn’t money to be made in mutating crops for New Guinea or Africa. Developed countries, which is where the money for this sort of thing comes from, simply don’t have food shortage problems. It would have to be a purely humanitarian project, which also somewhat implies that it would be done independently and therefore take longer and require donations. If a company did do it, it would be for goodwill (Reputation), but at that point they’re just more likely to donate aid directly because it is easier or bring food from developed countries to undeveloped ones because the cost to produce is probably higher than the cost to harvest existing materials and take it there.
I’m sure there are people who want to do that. I just doubt that they will have the financial resources to do it anytime soon. Will it happen one day? Probably, but I don’t think it’s profitable enough to be high up on the list of things people are currently doing with BT.