Adaev V.N.  

Extereme adaptation in the field of study of cultural ecology

ABSTRACT: The concept of adaptation has become a very popular focus of research in historical and social disciplines, that have given rise to various, sometimes conflicting interpretations of the term. The same partly applies to cultural ecology (ethnic ecology in Russia) where the concept has long provided an important framework for studies. If we define cultural (ethno-cultural) adaptation as a process not an outcome, then it is logical that its most essential characteristics are manifested in crisis, extreme conditions. The author proposes to single out extreme adaptation as a separate field of studies in cultural ecology, which is to be understood as a forced rapid adaptation of an ethnic group to drastically changing environmental factors, occurring under the conditions of high stress for the community. The essential point in this case is the lack of collective experience to solve complex tasks that the environment poses at the moment. It merits emphasis that the said area of research is relevant both for cultural ecology and ethnoarchaeology. Extreme adaptation is suitable for study many interesting aspects, such as a range of survival strategies of a community, its creative potential for adaptation, the degree of resistance to the crisis, the sets of internal and external social relations.

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