CJS-JSPS Symposium 2014 - Long-term Sustainability through Place-based, Small-scale economies

Goya and tomatoes in a basket

September 26-28, 2014 | 180 Doe Library, UC Berkeley

The relationship between food diversity and long-term sustainability in contemporary societies has been discussed widely in various disciplinary fields. However, most of them revolve around the cost-benefit analysis of resource use in the short-term perspective, and subsequently, little research has been conducted that offers insight to the future of food production after 2050 or 2100. Many aspects of the current food system are based on intensive production and consumption, supported by large-scale monoculture with long-distance transportation. An intensive and mechanized food production system can support a larger population for a short period, but the dependence on the current system as such has caused serious environmental costs, which cannot be overlooked any longer. In addition, large-scale monocultural food production is very vulnerable against climate change and natural catastrophes like earthquakes. Meanwhile, food productivity and many other things that smallholder producers offer have been underestimated both economically and socially. United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming to support and promote small-scale economies and societies. Small-scale and diversified food production contributes to global food security, revitalization of rural and regional communities, and maintenance of bio-cultural diversity with long-term sustainability.

This symposium examines the importance of place-based, small-scale and diversified economies for the long-term sustainability of human societies and explores what needs to be done for promoting alternative food systems. Experts in archaeology, ethnology, agronomy from Japan and the United States will present their research on the past and present practice of place-based smaller-scale food production systems, for reevaluating their advantages and limitations and exploring their future potential. This symposium will also aim to discuss the contributions the archaeology of the North Pacific could make to understand the mechanisms of long-term cultural and societal changes and to mitigate environmental issues at multiple scales.


Friday September 26, 2014

9:00 - 9:20am | Opening Remarks
Steven Vogel (CJS chair)
Masayuki Izutsu (JSPS San Francisco Director)

9:20 – 10:00am | Scopes of the Symposium
Junko Habu 

Session 1: Change and Continuities in Socio-Economic Systems
Chair: Junko Habu

10:00-10:25am | Food Systems and Climate Change
Fritjof Capra

10:25-10:50am | Household-scale Economies on the Northwest Coast: A Lower Columbia River Case Study
Kenneth Ames

11:10-11:35am | Left-handedness, the Right Angle, and Societal Verticality: Reflections on Hocart’s Theory of Hierarchy
William Balée

11:35am-12:00pm | Discussion

Session 2: Linking the Archaeology of Small-Scale Societies to Ethnography
Chairs: Shingo Hamada and Takanori Oishi

1:30-1:55pm | Population Change and Social Change in Northern Japan during the Jomon Period 
Tatsuhito Sekine

1:55-2:20pm | Vulnerability and Resilience on the North Pacific Rim: Climate Oscillation, Political Economy and Pandemic
Ben Fitzhugh

2:20-2:55pm | The Study of Place-Based, Small Scale Societies in California: A Case Study from Central California
Kent Lightfoot, Rob Cuthrell and Peter Nelson

3:15-3:40pm | Decentralization, Local Autonomy and Resource Management Practices in Coast Salish Societies of the Northwest Coast: Lessons from the Small Scale
Colin Grier

3:40-4:05pm | Revitalizing Broad-spectrum Economies: From  the Scope of Archaeology and Ethnography
Leo Aoi Hosoya

4:05-4:30pm | Discussion

Saturday, September 27

Session 3: Cultivating Trans-disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Chair: Daniel Niles

9:15-9:40am | Agroecologically Efficient Agricultural Systems for Rural and Urban Smallholder Farmers: Contributions to Food Sovereignty
Miguel Altieri and Clara Nicholls

9:40-10:05am | Towards Sustainable Remediation of Arsenic-Contaminated Soils
Céline Pallud, Sarick Matzen, and Anders Olson

10:20-10:45am | No-tillage with Weed Green Mulch: Extension of Fukuoka’s Natural Farming
Nobuhiro Kaneko

10:45-11:10am | How Can Researchers Contribute to Promote Local Institutional Ecosystem Governance in the Coastal Zone of Asia?
Satoshi Ishikawa

11:10-11:40am | Discussion

Session 4: Small-scale Economies in the Present and Future
Chair: Leo Aoi Hosoya

1:00-1:25pm | Food Diversity, Interethnic Relationships, and Long- term Sustainability of Forest Use in Central African Tropical Rainforests
Takanori Oishi

1:25-1:50pm | Farmers’ Markets in a “Dual Economy” of Tsugaru, Aomori Prefecture
Yuko Sugiyama

2:05- 2:30pm | Household-scale Fisheries and Environmental Change in Northern Japan 
Shingo Hamada

2:30-2:55pm | Re-Weaving Hope: Tsunami Survivors, Local Reciprocity Networks, and Futurity
Mayumi Fukunaga

2:55-3:20pm | Discussion

3:20-4:20pm | Concluding Discussion
Discussants: Daniel Niles and Steven Weber

4:20-4:30pm | Closing Remarks
Junko Habu

Sunday, September 28



Miguel Altieri and Clara I. Nicholls
Agroecologically Efficient Agricultural Systems for Rural and Urban Smallholder Farmers: Contributions to Food Sovereignty

The realization of the contribution of peasant agriculture (and recently of urban farmers) to food security in the midst of scenarios of climate change, economic and energy crisis, led to the concepts of food sovereignty and agroecologically based production systems to gain much attention in the developing world in the last two decades. New approaches and technologies involving application of blended modern agricultural science and indigenous knowledge systems and spearheaded by thousands of farmers, NGOs, and some government and academic institutions are proving to enhance food security while conserving agrobiodiversity soil and water resources conservation throughout hundreds of rural communities in the developing world. Case studies from Latin American rural communities and from northern California’s urban farms are presented to demonstrate how the agroecological development paradigm based on the revitalization of small farms which emphasizes diversity, synergy, recycling and integration, and social processes that value community participation and empowerment, proves to be perhaps one of the only viable options to meet present and future food needs. Given the present and predicted near future climate, energy and economic scenarios, agroecology has emerged as one of the most robust pathways towards designing biodiverse, productive, and resilient agroecosystems available today.

Kenneth Ames
Household-scale economies on the Northwest Coast, A Lower Columbia River Case Study.

The cultures of the Northwest Coast of North America are world famous among anthropologists for their dense human populations based on household level subsistence economies. Anthropologists long assumed this was the simple result of an extraordinarily rich environment. Recent coast-wide research shows this likely resulted instead from careful management of household labor and skills, resources and resource patches that increased productivity, diversity and reliability. However, this management appears to have been generally small scale. For example, while burning was an important technique in the Willamette Valley of Oregon for managing oaks and other plant resources, it seems to have been focused only on certain places. On the Lower Columbia River, the subsistence economy was a mix of very diverse and focused, which, taken as a whole, was very broad based. The fishery, for example, was very diverse, while hunting was both intensive and focused. Of course the economy was not limited to food resources; harvesting red cedar, for example, was essentially to building houses. Hunting deer and elk and harvesting red cedar are examples of practices that were both intensive yet sustainable.

William Balée
Left-handedness, the right angle, and societal verticality: Reflections on Hocart’s theory of hierarchy

Social hierarchies involve distinctions transcending age, gender, and simple alterity. They are seen in an in-group that includes occupational specialization, social heredity, material wealth, military and police command, authority to levy taxes and extract tribute, and differential proximity to centralization, both governmental and spiritual. To Hocart, the “machinery of government” exists before governing was ever employed; civilization arises merely from contingencies. In the Amazon, before people made monumental rectangular geoglyphs, they were building circular ones; a right angle without a compass requires derivation from a circle. To Hertz, “every social hierarchy claims to be founded on the nature of things.” Nobles vs. subalterns are found in a hereditary if dormant condition (as with right vs. left hand hierarchies); caste itself, with its varied occupational groups and surnames, emerges thusly. Societal verticality can be rapidly established and considered the normative state of affairs rather than a volte face or a process. How it can be reconfigured and resituated (as to place-based, environmentally informed economic production) can be discerned.

Fritjof Capra
Food Systems and Climate Change

The links between industrial agriculture and climate change are twofold. On the one hand, industrial food production systems are energy intensive and fossil-fuel based, and thus contribute significantly to climate change. On the other hand, the crops grown in the genetically homogeneous monocultures that are typical of chemical farming are not resilient to the climate extremes that are becoming more frequent and more violent. From a systemic point of view, it is evident that a system of agriculture that is highly centralized, energy-intensive, excessively chemical, and totally dependent on fossil fuels; a system, moreover, that creates serious health hazards for farm workers and consumers, and is unable to cope with increasing climate disasters, cannot be sustained in the long run. Fortunately, there is a viable alternative. If we changed from our chemical, large-scale industrial agriculture to organic, community-oriented, sustainable farming, this would contribute significantly to solving three of our biggest problems. It would greatly reduce our energy dependence; the healthy, organically grown food would have a huge positive effect on public health; and finally, organic farming would contribute significantly to fighting climate change by drawing CO2 from the atmosphere and locking it up in organic matter.

Ben Fitzhugh
Vulnerability and Resilience on the North Pacific Rim: Climate Oscillation, Political Economy and Pandemic

This talk explores the themes of this symposium through a comparative, archaeological case study of remote North Pacific Rim maritime hunter-gatherers. I explore an apparent asymmetry in the resilience of late Holocene human populations in the NE and NW Pacific in terms of climate variability, ecological productivity, food security and scales of social interdependence. Radiocarbon proxy models indicate maximum populations in several independent Alaskan data sets between AD 1250-1750 at the same time that the NE Asian (Kuril) population collapsed. These divergent histories provide an opportunity to explore the benefits and vulnerabilities of small-scale economies in the context of larger-scale natural and social dynamics. Three factors are relevant to understanding the demographic differences. First is the role of geographic and climate variability on food security. Second is the role of economic incorporation into and dependence on larger scale, complex, political-economic systems. And third is exposure to exotic diseases, a specific consequence of the second. Taking these factors into focus allows us to consider the adaptive roles and vulnerabilities of socio-economic scale in coupled natural and social systems.

Mayumi Fukunaga
Re-Weaving Hope: Tsunami Survivors, Local Reciprocity Networks, and Futurity

In the early days of survival after the tsunami disaster, local networks of reciprocity among fishers and other community members, especially among those who share an enduring faith in their watershed and maritime economy, a faith rooted in deep historical community ties with the sea and watershed, were essential to their well-being until state and outside regional networks could start systematic aid to the survivors. This paper presents ethnographical research describing how such multi-layered and -scaled socio-economic networks were essential to shoring up and restoring short-term and long-term futurity; to re-weaving social integrity; and to managing severed ties with the market economy, which began replacing their production with that of others. This analysis provides the basis for better understanding so-called ‘Nariwai’ lawsuits, an effort at social and economic restitution sought by local producers and residents temporarily or permanently displaced by the tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident.

Colin Grier
Decentralization, Local Autonomy and Resource Management Practices in Coast Salish Societies of the Northwest Coast: Lessons from the Small Scale

In several recent publications and presentations, I (along with some colleagues) have been considering how decentralization constituted a fundamental organizational principle in Coast Salish politics. I have recently extend the scope of these analyses to the ecological, focusing on how decentralized decision making and local resource control provided the basis for a system of effective ecological monitoring, diverse and sustainable intensification, and socio-economic resilience over the last several millennia. In this presentation, I outline the theoretical trajectory of this research and lay out a framework for the study of Coast Salish resource control and ecological management practices in both precontact times (using archaeological and paleoecological data) and recent times (using ethnographic data and public records). The broader objectives of my research are (1) to demonstrate how small scale societies organized around decentralized principles provide cogent models for long-term sustainable practices, and (2) to consider how such models can be implemented in modern and future nation states, which typically mobilize and manage resources through highly centralized and large-scale processes.

Shingo Hamada
Household-scale Fisheries and Environmental Change in Northern Japan

Japanese household-scale fishers engage in a wide variety of fishing activities throughout year. The utilization of seasonally different species enables fishing cooperatives to observe the no-catch periods during the reproduction periods of target species. Local kinship and neighborhood networks also operate as a foundation for gift economies that circulate resources within fisherfolk. However, heterogeneous uses of coastal seascapes often create spatial conflicts between different users, making the process of environmental stewardship complex and uneasy. Based on fieldwork in two coastal fishing communities in Hokkaido, I will discuss how environmental change, new technology, market economy, and consumer culture affect the present and future potential of small-scale coastal fisheries.

Leo Aoi Hosoya
Revitalizing Broad-spectrum Economies: From the Scope of Archaeology and Ethnography

A broad-spectrum economy is one that features a diverse combination of life-sustaining activities that include hunting, fishing, and gathering. Though the term is commonly thought to refer to the lifestyles of hunter-gatherer societies, recent archeological findings have revealed that humans continued broad-spectrum economic activities well beyond the start of agricultural practices. Even after rice farming began in China’s Yangtze River basin during the Neolithic period, for example, the rice crop never accounted for more than a portion of the overall diet; it has now been proven that nut-gathering, fishing, hunting, and a wide variety of other life-sustaining activities continued for nearly a thousand years. These findings also point to the highly sustainable nature of broad-spectrum economic agriculture. Even today, there are multiple societies (Papua New Guinea among them) where broad-spectrum economic agriculture takes place, and these need to be redefined not as remnants of a more primitive form of agriculture, but as a type of agricultural model that has continued for thousands of years (Hosoya 2009). We might begin to recognize the value of societies that have sustained the traditional techniques. As researchers, we have a responsibility to accurately gathering information on those techniques and revitalize them in practical ways in the modern world.

Satoshi Ishikawa
How Can Researchers Contribute to Promote Local Institutional Ecosystem Governance in the Coastal Zone of Asia?

Many coastal societies in Asia depend on a wide array of uses of diverse natural resources and ecosystem services, such as fishery and tourism. Social development usually centers around the effective use of these ecosystem services but there is little consideration paid to the health of the ecosystem. Local institutional governance is critical for the sustainability of ecosystem services, which are closely related to high biodiversity. However, conflicts among local peoples can disturb the appropriate monitoring of the ecosystem and the smooth implementation of conservation activities, especially where an ecosystem covers several administrative provinces. In this presentation I discuss the basic needs of local institutional governance of coastal ecosystems, with case studies about stock rehabilitation activities around Lake Hamana in central Japan during the 1970s to 90s, and the transfer of set-net fishing technology from Japan to Thailand from 2003 to 2013.

Nobuhiro Kaneko
No-tillage with Weed Green Mulch: Extension of Fukuoka’s Natural Farming

Agricultural sustainably will be a key to small-scale economical sustainability because food production is almost completely relaying on agriculture in modern society. Unfortunately, modern agriculture systems tend to be monoculture with intensive cultivation, more spraying chemicals and applying fertilizers (both synthetic and organic). At the same time, biodiversity in croplands is degraded. Thus ecosystem services are not fully supplied in agricultural fields. Importance of biodiversity of cropland soil is not well understood. Among the various agricultural managements, conservation agriculture; organic, no- or minimum tillage and weed green mulch is one of promising management of cropland sustainably (Kaneko 2014). Masanobu Fukuoka, the author of One Straw Revolution, and some other farmers in Japan have been practiced no-tillage without eliminating weeds, and they called the system natural farming. We have been studying soil biodiversity, soil aggregate formation by earthworms and carbon sequestration in this kind of conservation management. We found that under this management, soil physical, chemical and biological conditions were improved, and weeds are not always harm crop growth. Rehabilitation of soil biodiversity was responsible for the improved crop growth. Reduction of labor and disturbance to soil will be beneficial to small-scale farmers. Therefore, ecological study on this system is promising sustainability in agricultural production.

Kent G. Lightfoot, Rob Q. Cuthrell and Peter Nelson
The Study of Place-Based, Small Scale Societies in California: A Case Study from Central California

The purpose of our paper is to present a case study of an indigenous food production system in Central California that remained place-based, small-scale, and diversified for many centuries. Specifically, we examine how Native peoples in what is now Año Nuevo State Park employed resource management practices to create food production systems that were resilient to short and long-term climatic variations. These systems were based on the stewardship of anthropogenic landscapes that sustained high biodiversity and productivity of foods and other economically important resources in Late Holocene and Historic times. The paper is divided into two parts. The first part describes the results of a recent eco-archaeological project examining the long-term dynamics of landscape management practices in our study location. The second part explores how the contemporary reintroduction of such practices can enhance landscape values for multiple stakeholders. We are currently working with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and California State Parks to evaluate how traditional resource management practices may be employed systematically and efficiently to enhance the availability of native plants and animals employed by tribal members for food, craft production (such as basket making), medicines, and ceremonial regalia.

Takanori Oishi
Food Diversity, Interethnic Relationships, and Long-term Sustainability of Forest Use in Central African Tropical Rainforests

In sub-Saharan Africa, the food systems of neighboring ethnic groups with different modes of food production (e.g. hunter-gatherer and farmers, farmers and fisherfolks, farmers and pastoralists) tend to compliment each other. The “symbiotic” relationship between Pygmy hunter-gatherers and Bantu farmers in central African forest is known as an example of such complimentary food systems. This talk explores how Baka hunter-gatherers and Bakwele horticulturalists of southeastern Cameroon maintain food diversity and contribute to long-term sustainability through the manipulation of forest micro-environments. First-hand data on diversity of food materials and vegetation analysis will be used to discuss long-term (100-1,000 yrs) human impact on the “natural environment”. I will demonstrate how a variety of place-based, small-scale subsistence activities by both of these groups contribute to the formation of human-modified forest mosaics. The heterogeneity of forest landscapes provides a potential for future food production. An abundance of semi-deciduous tree species reflects past human impact on matured forest that can lead to long-term sustainability of the use of anthropogenic forests.

Céline Pallud, Sarick Matzen, and Anders Olson
Towards Sustainable Remediation of Arsenic-Contaminated Soils

Human activity has contributed a legacy of soil pollution, including metals and metalloids that can reside in soil for thousands of years. Among them, arsenic is one of the most toxic. Arsenic exposure presents a growing human health risk, especially in urban environments where arsenic contamination is a widespread problem, due to historical use of arsenical pesticides and mining activities. Considering that soil is a finite resource, remediation methods that are cost effective, sustainable, and broadly applicable are urgently needed. Phytoextraction with the fern Pteris vittata, in which P. vittata removes arsenic from soil while leaving it in place, is an emerging technology to remediate soils with shallow contamination. Our objective is to optimize P. vittata performance, and thus develop successful remediation methods, in complex, heterogeneous field conditions, especially for moderately-contaminated soils. For that purpose, we started a field study on an abandoned railroad right-of-way (Berkeley, CA) where we investigated the effect of fertilization using organic N, inorganic N, organic P, inorganic P, and compost on remediation efficiency. Using our field site as a real-life laboratory, we combined this remediation project with student training and community outreach, which increases the potential of the proposed research for making a lasting impact.

Tatsuhito Sekine
Population Change and Social Change in Northern Japan during the Jomon Period

Due to a cooling climate from the Middle to Late Jomon Period, ca. 4000 yBP, the number of archaeological sites drastically decreased in Kanto and Chubu areas, the center part of Japan. By contrast, a large settlement is thought to be divided into smaller settlements, which increased the number of sites in Northern Japan. Jomon people who lived in Northern Japan likely used various food resources by migrating to various high and low altitudes in an attempt to survive climate cooling. Archaeologists also discovered that large monuments including stone circles and mass graves surrounding the shell mound, which implies development of association between settlements and of complicated social relationships, were constructed in various regions of Northern Japan of the Late Jomon Period in which scale of a settlement was small.

Yuko Sugiyama
Farmers’ Markets in a “Dual Economy” of Tsugaru, Aomori Prefecture

The Tsugaru region is in the west of the Aomori prefecture. Because of the cold climate, the crops repeatedly failed to cause severe famine. Apple farming was introduced in the 19th Century, which became the main cash crop. However, it was always difficult for the local people to earn enough solely from farming. Combining multiple subsistence activities, such as farming, gathering, fishing and labor migration, has formed their livelihood strategy by utilizing a “dual economy.” They have a long history of migrant labor as a means of getting cash necessary for the local living. The involvement into the national/global system of cash economy occurred in an early date. But at the same time, they maintained the small-scale local economy of utilizing various natural environments governed by communal morality. Recently, a number of farmers’ markets were established. The people got the opportunity to sell the local crops and wild plants directly to the urban consumers. Also, the farmers’ markets are now playing an important role of revitalizing the communal use of the environments, which once was deteriorated after a rapid mechanization of agriculture in 1960s. The “dual economy” livelihood strategy is being reorganized to fit to the present condition.


  • Miguel Altieri, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley
  • Kenneth Ames, Department of Anthropology, Portland State University
  • William Balée, Department of Anthropology, Tulane University
  • Fritjof Capra, Center for Ecoliteracy
  • Rob Cuthrell, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
  • Ben Fitzhugh, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington
  • Mayumi Fukunaga, School of Sustainability Systems, Osaka Prefecture University
  • Colin Grier, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University
  • Junko Habu, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley and Research Institute for Humanity and Nature
  • Shingo Hamada, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature and Department of Anthropology, Indiana University
  • Leo Aoi Hosoya, The Global Human Resource Development Center, Ochanomizu University
  • Satoshi Ishikawa, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature
  • Nobuhiro Kaneko, Yokohama National University
  • Kent Lightfoot, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
  • Sarick Matzen, Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, UC Berkeley
  • Peter Nelson, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
  • Clara I. Nicholls, Department of Latin American Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Daniel NilesResearch Institute for Humanity and Nature
  • Takanori Oishi, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature
  • Anders OlsonDepartment of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, UC Berkeley
  • Céline Pallud, Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, UC Berkeley
  • Tatsuhito Sekine, Faculty of Humanities, Hirosaki University
  • Yuko Sugiyama, Faculty of Humanities, Hirosaki University
  • Steven Weber, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University at Vancouver


The conference will take place in 180 Doe Memorial Library.

Doe Library