Terrace farming charred by a recent forest fire

Before It Spread Like Wildfire: an archaeological perspective on slash-and-burn farming

Monday 21st March 2016, 4.00-6.00pm; Room B13, 32 Lincoln Inn's Field (32L) Speakers: Dr David Clinnick, Dr James Walker; Chair: Dr Hans Steinmüller

Today, shifting cultivation in the form of slash-and-burn farming is practiced on a large scale throughout Southeast Asia. Some forms of slash-and-burn are unsustainable both for the environment and local populace. The impact of recurrent phenomena referred to as episodes of "Southeast Asian haze", attest to the health risks, particularly for urban centres, of this agricultural mode. This seminar explores the contribution archaeological perspectives have to offer on the current crises facing practitioners of slash-and-burn farming in Southeast Asia.

Through exploring how early farming techniques spread throughout island Southeast Asia, we found that archaeological data seemed to contradict many common and contemporary views on slash-and-burn farming. Here, we show how archaeology can provide an alternative perspective on the current challenges facing these farmers, and how narratives of the past can inform theories of the present.   



David Clinnick is a researcher with the Department of Archaeology at Durham University.



James Walker is a researcher with the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge.


hans steinmuller

Hans Steinmüller is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at LSE.