ROOTS Public Lecture: Tim Kohler

Nov 01, 2021 from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM

Klaus-Murmann-Hörsaal, Leibnizstr. 1, 24118 Kiel

ROOTS Public Lecture.

Tim Kohler, professor at Washington State University (WSU) and current JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, will give a public lecture on 

"Can We Identify Early Warning Signs of Collapse or Transformation in Social Systems? Some Affirmative Evidence from Pueblo Societies"


For some three decades ecologists and systems thinkers such as Stephen Carpenter, Carl Folke and Marten Scheffer have been arguing that ecosystems may suddenly “flip” from one behavior to another, such as when temperate lakes switch from a clear-water to a turbid-water regime rather than undergoing slow, incremental change. More recently there have also been suggestions that some of these ecosystems may exhibit early warning signals of impending regime shifts. For a decade or more there have also been attempts (including by some archaeologists) to broaden this logic to include social systems. In my opinion these attempts have not been very convincing. Here I report what is possibly (though I’m an interested party) the best evidence to data from the archaeological record in favor of the ideas that (1) these social regime shifts exist; (2) they exhibit early signals of the expected sorts; and from these two findings we can infer that (3) slow internal developments apparently sometimes made theses societies less resilient over time, setting them up for collapse or transformation. These ideas are illustrated by reference to the Pueblo history of southwestern North America from 500 – 1300 CE.



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