Kelly Black

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9396

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Black, Kelly, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Excavating the Deep History of Degradation: Animal Husbandry and the Environmental Impacts of Livestock Grazing in Pre and Early Historic South India,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen Morrison

Preliminary abstract: Although existing environmental conservation policies in South Asia view livestock grazing as an inherently environmentally destructive process, the actual long-term impacts of grazing remains poorly understood. This project will provide a much-needed long-term perspective on the impacts of livestock grazing through a study of animal husbandry throughout South India’s pre and early history. Using faunal and paleoenvironmental datasets from the archaeological site Kadebakele, I will examine how changes in animal husbandry articulated with agricultural production and landscape change in South India. In particular, I will explore how forms of animal and agricultural resource production intensified within the context of settlement expansion and the first emergence of towns in cities in the region. I will compare evidence of intensification with evidence of overgrazing, as demonstrated through the analysis of pathologies on animal teeth. Faunal, agricultural, and overgrazing data will also be compared to evidence of field clearance and soil erosion in the environmental record. Using a non-anthropocentric approach, I will showcase the ways in which human and animal agencies intersected to produce a complex environmental history. The results of this research will further an understanding of the history of animal husbandry in the region and will address how domesticated animals figured into the changing agricultural and economic regimes that ultimately laid the foundation for the emergence of urbanism in South India. In addition, this research will provide a deeper historical context for looking at the specific effects of livestock grazing, providing historical insights into present day environmental concerns.