Colloquium with Prof. Stephen B. Acabado, Department of Anthropology, University of Guam
The Ifugao landscape offers to provide anthropologists a new dimension in the study of agricultural intensification and the development of political economy. Most models that explain the development of agricultural systems suggest evolutionary relationship between extensive and intensive forms of production. Recently, information from highland Southeast Asian farming systems questions the validity of this relationship. As a case in point, I present the results of an ongoing study among the Ifugao of the northern Philippine highlands. This work provides alternative views on issues of food production intensification and adds to the increasing evidence of the disjunction between water management and sociopolitical stratification.
Corollary to determining cultural processes in Ifugao, this work also aims to resolve debates on the antiquity of the entire Cordillera terraced field tradition. Archaeological and ethnohistoric work will confirm whether the conventional ‘long history’ or the revisionist 'short history' more accurately represents the occupational history of this region.
Research sites are located in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Ifugao Province (Cordillera, Philippines), where little previous archaeological research has been undertaken. The need for such research is particularly urgent because the area's terraces are rapidly deteriorating as increasing numbers of Ifugao farmers leave their traditional farming occupations and their rice terraces fall into disuse. This study generates archaeological findings that are directly relevant to understanding and conserving Ifugao irrigation technology and heritage, and also expands our anthropological knowledge of water management in the non-industrial world.
Stephen B. Acabado is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Guam. He received his MA and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Hawai‘i. He has worked on archaeological expeditions in Tayabas City, Quezon, Philippines; Saipan; San Remigio, Cebu, Philippines; Ifugao, Philippines; Takeo Province, Southern Cambodia; and Tham Lod, Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand.
Cost: Free and open to the public.