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The world until yesterday : what can we learn from traditional societies?

Author: Jared M Diamond
Publisher: New York : Viking, ©2012.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Jared M Diamond
ISBN: 9780670024810 0670024813 9780670785896 067078589X
OCLC Number: 793726658
Description: xi, 499 p., [32] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 25 cm.
Contents: At the Airport. An airport scene ; Why study traditional societies? ; States ; Types of traditional societies ; Approaches, causes, and sources ; A small book about a big subject ; Plan of the book. --
Part one. Setting the Stage by Dividing Space. Friends, enemies, strangers, and traders (Boundary ; Mutually exclusive territories ; Non-exclusive land use ; Friends, enemies, and strangers ; First contacts ; Trade and traders ; Market economies ; Traditional forms of trade ; Traditional trade items ; Who trades what? ; Tiny nations). --
Part two. Peace and War. Compensation for the death of a child ( An accident ; A ceremony ; What if? ; What the state did ; New Guinea compensation ; Life-long relationships ; Other non-state societies ; State authority ; State civil justice ; Defects in state civil justice ; State criminal justice ; Restorative justice ; Advantages and their price) ; A short chapter, about a tiny war (The Dani war ; The war's time-line ; The war's death toll) ; A longer chapter, about many wars (Definitions of war ; Sources of information ; Forms of traditional warfare ; Mortality rates ; Similarities and differences ; Ending warfare ; Effects of European contact ; Warlike animals, peaceful peoples ; Motives for traditional war ; Ultimate reasons ; Whom do people fight? ; Forgetting Pearl Harbor). --
Part three. Young and Old. Bringing up children (Comparisons of child-rearing ; Childbirth ; Infanticide ; Weaning and birth interval ; On-demand nursing ; Infant-adult contact ; Fathers and allo-parents ; Responses to crying infants ; Physical punishment ; Child autonomy ; Multi-age playgroups ; Child play and education ; Their kids and our kids) ; The treatment of old people : cherish, abandon, or kill? (The elderly ; Expectations about eldercare ; Why abandon or kill? ; Usefulness of old people ; Society's values ; Society's rules ; Better or worse today? ; What to do with older people?). --
Part four. Danger and Response. Constructive paranoia (Attitudes towards danger ; A night visit ; A boat accident ; Just a stick in the ground ; Taking risks ; Risks and talkativeness) ; Lions and other dangers (Dangers of traditional life ; Accidents ; Vigilance ; Human violence ; Diseases ; Responses to diseases ; Starvation ; Unpredictable food shortages ; Scatter your land ; Seasonality and food storage ; Diet broadening ; Aggregation and dispersal ; Responses to danger). --
Part five. Religion, Language, and Health. What electric eels tell us about the evolution of religion (Questions about religion ; Definitions of religion ; Functions and electric eels ; The search for causal explanations ; Supernatural beliefs ; Religion's function of explanation ; Defusing anxiety ; Providing comfort ; Organization and obedience ; Codes of behavior towards strangers ; Justifying war ; Badges of commitment ; Measures of religious success ; Changes in religion's functions) ; Speaking in many tongues (Multilingualism, The world's language total ; How languages evolve ; Geography of language diversity ; Traditional multilingualism ; Benefits of bilingualism ; Alzheimer's disease ; Vanishing languages ; How languages disappear ; Are minority languages harmful? ; Why preserve languages? ; How can we protect languages?) ; Salt, sugar, fat, and sloth (Non-communicable diseases ; Our salt intake ; Salt and blood pressure ; Causes of hypertension ; Dietary sources of salt ; Diabetes ; Types of diabetes ; Genes, environment, and diabetes ; Pima Indians and Nauru Islanders ; Diabetes in India ; Benefits of genes for diabetes ; Why is diabetes low in Europeans? ; The future of non-communicable diseases). --
At Another Airport. From the jungle to the 405 ; Advantages of the modern world ; Advantages of the traditional world ; What can we learn?
Responsibility: Jared Diamond.

Abstract:

Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterday, in evolutionary time, when everything changed, and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions. This book provides a firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of years, a past that has mostly vanished, and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today. The author does not romanticize traditional societies, after all, we are shocked by some of their practices, but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us.

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