chapter  8
48 Pages

Anthropological Contributions to the Cultural Ecology and Management of Water Resources: A Review of Literature to the 1970s

ByJohn W. Bennett

On the whole, anthropologists have studied water resources as a by-product of their research on cultural history and human subsistence, rather than as a separate topic. 1 In surveying the literature I have tried to feature the most common types of information and to suggest some unifying themes from the field of cultural ecology. The subjects treated in this essay are as follows: (1) water resource development in prehistoric cultures, particularly the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and Middle America, (2) the theoretical concept of “hydraulic society” or “irrigation civilization,” (3) the ecological and cultural consequences of modern, large-scale water development projects in the tropics, (4) ethnological204 and applied anthropological work on the use of water in modern tribal and peasant societies, (5) problems of water management, with special reference to economic maximization and competitive-cooperative interactions, and (6) some cultural implications of water resource development and conservation in North America.