Subsistence and Livelihood

A number of researchers in the department seek to understand changing modes of subsistence and livelihood in diverse settings around the world. Rebecca Bird has worked on foraging and the use of fire in livelihood strategies in remote areas of Australia. Jamie Jones investigates the role of risk in subsistence and livelihood systems and especially the trade-offs between reproductive investment and livelihood. Lisa Curran is interested in the land rights of smallholders in Indonesia and how they are threatened by large-scale commercial agricultural developments. Bill Durham has projects underway in in smallholder land use, productivity, and livelihood in the Osa-Golfito region of Costa Rica, and their potential role in a sustainability plan for the region. Ian Robertson is examining the urban lifeways and economy of Teotihuacan's poorest neighborhoods using surface survey data and the analysis of excavated architectural and artifactual remains. Current investigations focus on dietary reconstruction using residues in ancient pottery. James Ferguson is interested in the multiple livelihoods of the informal economy in southern Africa, and in how practices of distribution (from the informal distributions of kinship and friendship to large state programs of social assistance) have become increasingly central to poor people’s livelihoods. Sylvia Yanagisako has conducted research on family firms in northern Italy, and she is initiating a project on the urban service sector in central Italy.