The Power of Ideology: Religion and Environmental Consciousness in Prehistoric Societies

Dylan S Davis

Abstract


People are defined by the environments in which they live. This article seeks to explain how environmentally-based ideologies help lead to the development of ecologically sustainable innovations. If the importance of nature is a core ideology of a society, measures will likely be taken to ensure sustainable usage of environmental resources. In times of short-term environmental instability, religious beliefs become strengthened due to successful rituals (e.g. prayers for rain coincide with the end of a period of drought). However, if poor conditions persist for long durations then faith in rituals will waver, leaving a society in a state of instability. Utilising various anthropological literature and two case studies (The Central Andes and Easter Island), the following conclusions are made: (1) ideology that emphasises human-environmental coexistence stresses the importance of the environment and leads to successful innovations that allow for humanity to thrive without doing irreversible damage to our surroundings; and (2) unpredictable and lengthy periods of negative environmental conditions can lead to the weakening of social, political, and economic constructs and their controlling ideologies.

 


Keywords


Environmental Sustainability; Religion; Religious Anthropology; Rapa Nui; Moche; Nasca; Central Andes

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