Recent international attention has focused on desertification and its concomitants, especially the diminution of flora and fauna in arid and semiarid lands and the resulting reduction in the economic value of those lands. Natural factors such as drought and wind erosion, as well as various technological practices, have been blamed for the present situation in many countries. Most observers agree that human beings have been both perpetrators and victims of desertification. Anthropologists have long been interested in documenting hew different societies have affected and been affected by their environments. The papers in this volume present ease studies of societies ranging from ancient Peru to contemporary Israel, along with several topically oriented works. All are designed to illustrate how various societies--whether by water management or by the exploitation of plants and animals--have attempted to achieve ecological balance. Social organization and ideology as well as technology are discussed as important variables affecting the ways in which populations adapt to, or cope with, desertification.
Foreword -- Introduction -- An Empirical Approach to Prehistoric Agrarian Collapse: The Case of the Moche Valley, Peru -- Farmers and Technical Experts: Information Flow in Irrigated Agriculture -- Human Use of the Pre-Saharan Ecosystem and Its Impact on Desertization -- Utilization of Surface Water by Northern Arabian Bedouins -- Agroecosystem Diversity: A Model from the Sonoran Desert -- A Rational–Choice Model of Agricultural Resource Utilization and Conservation -- Drought versus Desertification: The Case of the Sahel -- Some Observations on Adaptation to Semi-arid Environments