Dr. Maria Bruno, Archeology

Digging Deeper into Chinese Agricultural Systems in the Archaeology Curriculum

My initial motivation for applying to participate in the Valley & Ridge Goes to China program was to learn more about the environment, history, and socio-political dynamics that have shaped agricultural production in the Yunnan region so that I could develop improved modules on China for two regularly taught courses: ARCH/ANTH 110 Archaeology and World Prehistory and ARCH/ANTH 261 Environmental Archaeology. The proposed modules would focus on the origins of agriculture in China, the role of major agricultural infrastructure such as terracing and irrigation in the rise and fall of complex societies, and the long-term development of agricultural land use in the Yunnan region and its role in the environmental issues people of the region face today. The actual experience of visiting the intensely cultivated landscapes of the Yunnan region with my colleagues and incredibly knowledgeable hosts certainly provided information to meet most of these initial goals, but also motivated an idea for a new class and possibly a small research project. I truly did not anticipate the extent to which this experience would resonate with my teaching and research. I was especially struck by some of the similarities with my primary region of interest in the Andes and am very excited by the new possibilities this experience provided.