Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Examples of “Regional Polities”

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Examples of “Regional Polities”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Examples of “Regional Polities”
Chiefdoms Examples of “Regional Polities”

2 Some comments on J&E’s assessment of regional polities
Underestimate the size of acephalous societies Overestimate need for formal organization up to societies ~ 10,000 people

3 Macroevolution again Population pressure can’t be rate limiting step
What is? Technology? Social organization? Many people suspect social organization Douglas North, Bob Bettinger The work-arounds hypothesis Hard to adapt people to live in big complex societies Social organization not observable” and not trialable

4 Some other important issues
Functional versus conflict theories of social complexification: untangling a major social science paradox Leaders do have prosocial functions Formal offices invariably (?) lead to social stratification Polities do expand by violent conquest Why not democracy? Simpler societies egalitarian Big Man system proto-democratic Yet main path to complexity is via ranked lineages and hereditary elite classes Group selection favors social system with best work-arounds By conquest and by imitation Slow process More about this in Part II

5 Historical examples of social-organizational breakthrus
Shoshone minimalism Chinese Confucian merit bureaucracy Develops after ~ 600 BC In West after ~ 1700 AD Settling of California Anglos pioneered as family units, but with cooperation via democratic institutions Hispanics pioneered as larger extended family groups Anglo frontier moved faster because of greater social flexibility

6 Marshall Sahlins (1963) Poor Man, Rich Man, Big Man, Chief: Political Types in Melanesia and Polynesia Pacific islands as natural experiment Melanesia versus Polynesia Similar distribution of large and small islands Melanesians have Big Man systems even on very big islands Polynesians have chiefs even on small islands Human social organization is conservative on millennial time scales: historical versus ecological causation? Trobriand Islanders an exception? Melanesians with a chiefdom? Big advances in Oceanian anthropology since 1963 Melanesia turns out to be culturally and biologically heterogeneous

7 Austronesian phenomenon: Patrick Kirch (2000) On the Road of the Winds

8 Language map

9 Lapita Phenomenon

10 Lapita pottery very diagnostic (oddly, Polynesians in the E
Lapita pottery very diagnostic (oddly, Polynesians in the E. Lapita realm later abandon pottery!)

11 Lapita expansion very rapid

12 Core technology: basic tropical horticulture plus

13 Lapita navigation strategy
Sailing leeward vs windward. Safe to beat to windward. If you get into trouble you can sail a jury rigged canoe downwind home.

14 Austronesian sailors could point fairly close to the wind

15 Austronesian exploration stategy

16 Ranked lineage social organization
Proto-Oceanic term for ancestor: *tumpu Polynesian clans patrilineal Trobriand clans matrilineal The novel element is formal offices not dependent upon the entrepreneurship of an ambitious individual In the Lapita case, chieftainship in an open environment a stimulus to pioneering: Every successful pioneer a chief!

17 The Functions of Chiefs
“Domestic tranquility”—suppression of small-scale warfare so prevalent in local-group societies Provision of food security Store surpluses on large scale for redistribution Investment in large scale production Supervision of intertribal trade Investment in high tech canoes Provision of supernatural services (?)

18 Dysfunctions of Chiefdoms
Hereditary principle unreliable supplier of talent (but limits destructive competition for office??) Stratification breeds intra-societal tensions Violent conflict between chiefs often destructive Ideological exploitation of human credulity

19 The Trobriand Islands Case

20 Pioneering ethnographer Bronislaw Malinowski studied Trobrianders 1914-1917

21 Subsistence: tropical horticulture & fishing

22 Gardening highly ritualized

23 Rather intricate gender division of labor in gardening

24 Mature garden

25 Fishing major protein source

26 Stratified social organization
Chief Touluwa

27 Chief and his storehouse

28 Ceremonial display of harvest

29 Modern yam shelter

30 Kula Trade system

31 Kula Ring trade Kula Ring trade

32 Armband

33 Necklaces

34 Ceremonial trade

35 Substantial canoes carry mundane cargo: clay pots, fine stone


37 Kula “market”

38 Evolution of Chiefdoms in Polynesia Rather Diverse
Open systems: small, highly competitive chiefdoms Near-state systems Tonga-Samoa: Division of religious and secular authority Hawai’i: Class-based distinctions

39 Marquesian Open Sytem

40 Easter Island: Collapse of open system


42 Hawai’i Large island system Notable for class system
Large population: 250, ,000 Several competing chiefdoms at contact United by Kamehameha with trade guns Notable for class system Chiefs ranked three deep Class of junior aristocrat managers Commoners divorced from ranked lineage system



45 Chiefly display: feather cloaks

46 Economic intensification under chiefly supervision
Reef-flat fishponds

47 Pond-field irrigation systems

48 Population equilibrium?

49 Basseri Notable features Pastoral tribe Component of state
Tribal chief part of state elite

50 Conclusions Tribes have formal leadership and usually inegalitarian, stratified social relations Kinship still the dominant social institution Chiefly economic functions various but important Inter-chiefdom trade and warfare often highly organized Easy to see how big chiefdoms become states

Download ppt "Examples of “Regional Polities”"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google