The great ‘intensification debate’: Its history and place in Australian archaeology

23rd January 2014

Harry Lourandos and Annie Ross


The ‘Intensification Debate’ of the 1980s was a critical period in the investigation of Australian prehistory. It focused attention and research upon questions of change and dynamics within hunter-gatherer societies of the past, especially regarding demographic, socioeconomic and sociocultural factors. In this way it was a reaction to previous static and functionalist approaches which emphasised the passive nature of hunter-gatherer societies and their submission to changing environmental and   ecological conditions. ‘Intensification’ also questioned the traditional anthropological paradigm which contrasted hunter-gatherers with other societies, including horticulturalists and agriculturalists. This new debate demonstrated the similarities between these societies, with respect to social organisation, economy, demography and change, in both the long- and short-term.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Lourandos, H. and A. Ross
The great 'intensification debate': Its history and place in Australian archaeology
December 1994
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