Provisioning urban communities: a topic in search of a model


en Anthropozoologica 16 - Pages 101-106

Published on 01 October 1992

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animals and their products in trade and exchange. Proceedings of the 3rd international meeting of HASRI, Oxford, 8-11 November 1990

It is argued in this paper that the movement of animal resources between urban communities and their rural hinterland would have been far more complicated than is generally allowed in interpretations of bone assemblages from urban sites. A market exchange model is generally assumed, though seldom explicitly justified, and interpretation depends too heavily on contemporary notions of what constitutes "rational" animal husbandry, rather than considering the evidence provided by economic anthropology concerning the functioning of stratified nucleated communities and their use of animal resources as cultural attributes. A simplistic formalist model of costs and products in a market-based System is used to show the influence of social factors on decision-making, and the inherent weakness of any such model. The possibility of animal resources being mobilised through redistribution is discussed, and the paper concludes with a plea for more systematic model-building, and less ideographic interpretation of empirical data.


Animal Resources, Urban Market, Models.

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