Selected Publications - Abstract

Cleveland, David A. (1998) Balancing on a Planet: Toward an Agricultural Anthropology for the 21st Century. Human Ecology 26(2):323-340.

Robert Netting had a central role in establishing agricultural anthropology. Many people rightly remember him as an astute ethnographer of farming communities, focused on analyzing the empirical details of changing patterns of household composition, land holding size and labor use. Yet, during his career he was increasingly concerned about the sustainability of smallholder vs. conventional industrial agriculture models on a global scale. Thus, Netting also had an important role in laying the foundation for the development of an agricultural anthropology for the 21st century, an anthropology that shows how smallholders "balancing on an alp" can help us to understand how we might balance on this planet. This paper analyzes Netting's contribution to the future of agricultural anthropology in three key areas: the environment, population and agriculture relationship; farmer knowledge and epistemology; and models for global sustainability.