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Synthesis: Vulnerability, Traps, and Transformations—Long-term Perspectives from Archaeology

Michael Schoon, Arizona State University
Christo Fabricius, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
John M. Anderies, Arizona State University
Margaret Nelson, Arizona State University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04184-160224

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Abstract

In this synthesis, we hope to accomplish two things: 1) reflect on how the analysis of the new archaeological cases presented in this special feature adds to previous case studies by revisiting a set of propositions reported in a 2006 special feature, and 2) reflect on four main ideas that are more specific to the archaeological cases: i) societal choices are influenced by robustness–vulnerability trade-offs, ii) there is interplay between robustness–vulnerability trade-offs and robustness–performance trade-offs, iii) societies often get locked in to particular strategies, and iv) multiple positive feedbacks escalate the perceived cost of societal change. We then discuss whether these lock-in traps can be prevented or whether the risks associated with them can be mitigated. We conclude by highlighting how these long-term historical studies can help us to understand current society, societal practices, and the nexus between ecology and society.

Key words

archaeology; robustness; trade-offs; transformation; vulnerability

Copyright © 2011 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087