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POLITICAL SYSTEMS An Anthropological Perspective.

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1 POLITICAL SYSTEMS An Anthropological Perspective

2 2 HOBBES: “THE CONDITION OF MAN [sic] IN A STATE OF NATURE IS A CONDITION OF WAR OF EVERYONE AGAINST EVERYONE” “THE CONDITION OF MAN [sic] IN A STATE OF NATURE IS A CONDITION OF WAR OF EVERYONE AGAINST EVERYONE” Without formal government – anarchy Without formal government – anarchy All societies have All societies have power imbalances & conflicts

3 3 ALL SOCIETIES HAVE SYSTEMS TO MAINTAIN SOCIAL ORDER & RESOLVE CONFLICTS There is diversity in the way power is organized There is diversity in the way power is organized POWER: Ability to make & enforce decisions POWER: Ability to make & enforce decisions AUTHORITY: Legitimized ability to use power AUTHORITY: Legitimized ability to use power Political Systems Depend On: Political Systems Depend On: Group size, adaptive strategy, ecological conditions, resources, social stratification Group size, adaptive strategy, ecological conditions, resources, social stratification

4 4 I.DECENTRALIZED POLITICAL SYSTEMS BANDS (20-60 people) BANDS (20-60 people) Hunters & gatherers Hunters & gatherers Informal political system, no formal authority Informal political system, no formal authority Egalitarian, generosity & Egalitarian, generosity & kinship bonds even out power differences Naturalistic world view Naturalistic world view See selves as part of nature See selves as part of nature Live in balance with nature Live in balance with nature

5 5 HEADMAN: situational leaders HEADMAN: situational leaders Hunting success, control of supernatural (trance), coordinates group movements Hunting success, control of supernatural (trance), coordinates group movements Influence only during hunt Influence only during hunt Comanche Peace Chief Comanche Peace Chief “First Among Equals” “First Among Equals” “One word from the headman “One word from the headman and everyone does as he pleases” No control over resources No control over resources

6 6 Band Social Control Gossip, ridicule, ostracism Gossip, ridicule, ostracism Inuit Song Dual Inuit Song Dual “Court of Public Opinion”

7 7 Decentralized Political Systems TRIBES (1000 people) TRIBES (1000 people) Horticulture, pastoralism Horticulture, pastoralism Informal political system, no formal authority Informal political system, no formal authority Politically autonomous villages Politically autonomous villages May form alliances during conflict May form alliances during conflict Decision making based on group consensus Decision making based on group consensus Mostly egalitarian, Mostly egalitarian, based on kinship relations

8 8 BIG MAN: Leadership is informal & temporary BIG MAN: Leadership is informal & temporary Achieved status Achieved status Wields influence, not power Wields influence, not power Persuasion, charismatic, eloquence in speech making Persuasion, charismatic, eloquence in speech making Generosity to gain support Generosity to gain support Distribution creates obligations Distribution creates obligations Hosts feasts to gain prestige Hosts feasts to gain prestige Instability, competition Instability, competition Fluctuating loyalties Fluctuating loyalties

9 9 Nuer Leopard Skin Chief (not a chief) Arbitrates via supernatural powers Arbitrates via supernatural powers Offers sanctuary Offers sanctuary Ritually cleanses murder Ritually cleanses murder Must make blood payment Must make blood payment(cattle)

10 10 Kwelka Big Man Moka feast to create alliances Moka feast to create alliances Redistribution of pigs Redistribution of pigs Polygyny Polygyny Wives raise sweet potatoes, pigs Wives raise sweet potatoes, pigs Competes with other big men Competes with other big men Persuasion, speech making Persuasion, speech making Avenging of murder Avenging of murder Accusations of sorcery Accusations of sorcery

11 11 II. CENTRALIZED POLITICAL SYSTEMS CHIEFDOM (10,000 people) CHIEFDOM (10,000 people) Horticulture with surplus, some pastoralists Horticulture with surplus, some pastoralists Emergence of authoritarian leadership Emergence of authoritarian leadership Not egalitarian Not egalitarian Kinship relations, Kinship relations, but ranked lineages

12 12 Hierarchy of ranked chiefdoms Hierarchy of ranked chiefdoms May be a number of chiefs with subordination of lesser chiefs May be a number of chiefs with subordination of lesser chiefs Social distance between chief & commoners Social distance between chief & commoners Hereditary position Hereditary position Authority is in the role Authority is in the role Legitimate power to demand labor & tribute Legitimate power to demand labor & tribute

13 13 Ranked societies create inequalities Ranked societies create inequalities Surplus production, conspicuous consumption Surplus production, conspicuous consumption Chief has power to distribute more goods Chief has power to distribute more goods If demands are greater than ability to redistribute, rebellion may occur If demands are greater than ability to redistribute, rebellion may occur Chiefdoms can break up Chiefdoms can break up

14 14 KPELLE (LIBERIA) ORDEAL Political system maintains differential power relations Political system maintains differential power relations Town Chief & Town Chief & subordinate elders Clan Chief Clan Chief District Paramount Chief District Paramount Chief Chiefs are prosperous farmers with cattle Chiefs are prosperous farmers with cattle Allow cattle to wander into rice fields of poor farmers Allow cattle to wander into rice fields of poor farmers

15 15 A poor farmer slashed the town chief’s cow with a machete & killed it A poor farmer slashed the town chief’s cow with a machete & killed it The Paramount Chief conducted an ORDEAL to supernaturally determine guilt The Paramount Chief conducted an ORDEAL to supernaturally determine guilt A hot knife was magically prepared A hot knife was magically prepared If it burns the suspects leg, he is guilty— the man confessed If it burns the suspects leg, he is guilty— the man confessed Coercive authority gives power to defend the interests of privileged groups Coercive authority gives power to defend the interests of privileged groups

16 16 STATE: (100,000–millions of people) STATE: (100,000–millions of people) 1 st State – Mesopotamia (Iraq) 5000 YA 1 st State – Mesopotamia (Iraq) 5000 YA Agricultural & industrial societies Agricultural & industrial societies States are not based on kinship— classes are present States are not based on kinship— classes are present Specialized institutions carry out political tasks—when the society is too large to govern via kinship groups Specialized institutions carry out political tasks—when the society is too large to govern via kinship groups Centralized Political System

17 17 Presence of bureaucracy Presence of bureaucracy Hierarchy of roles marked by different levels of authority Hierarchy of roles marked by different levels of authority Single, centralized authority with legitimate power to coerce Single, centralized authority with legitimate power to coerce King, dictator, president King, dictator, president Military force to back up authority Military force to back up authority

18 18 THEORIES OF WARFARE Warfare is associated with horticultural, agricultural, industrial societies Warfare is associated with horticultural, agricultural, industrial societies Rare in hunting & gathering societies Rare in hunting & gathering societies Where commitment to land Where commitment to land Domestication fosters an exploitative world view Domestication fosters an exploitative world view Nature is to be exploited, controlled Nature is to be exploited, controlled

19 19 ROBERT CARNEIRO: GEOGRAPHICAL CIRCUMSCRIPTION This is a significant condition for formation of the State This is a significant condition for formation of the State Domesticationpopulation increase, pressure on resources Domesticationpopulation increase, pressure on resources Intensify productioncompetition over land Intensify productioncompetition over land Warfare dispossession from land Warfare dispossession from land

20 20 Conquerors may subjugate rather than annihilate the conquered Conquerors may subjugate rather than annihilate the conquered They will pay tribute They will pay tribute Mesopotamia, Egypt, Peru Mesopotamia, Egypt, Peru Physical boundaries – mountains, desert, sea Physical boundaries – mountains, desert, sea Limits population expansion Limits population expansion

21 21 NAPOLEON CHAGNON: SOCIAL CIRCUMSCRIPTION Frequent movement of Yanomami villages, relocate gardens every 3 years Frequent movement of Yanomami villages, relocate gardens every 3 years MICRO MOVEMENTS – extend gardens to adjacent areas MICRO MOVEMENTS – extend gardens to adjacent areas Remain in area years Remain in area years Not due to soil depletion or shifting horticulture Not due to soil depletion or shifting horticulture

22 22 New gardens added as extensions to older ones New gardens added as extensions to older ones Group A and A’ Group A and A’ A’ made new shabonos B & B’ when they extended their gardens A’ made new shabonos B & B’ when they extended their gardens Group B’ moved across Orinoco to establish shabono C Group B’ moved across Orinoco to establish shabono C Micro Movements, over 8 years

23 23 MACRO MOVEMENTS MACRO MOVEMENTS Frequent inter-village fighting Frequent inter-village fighting Once a death occurs, long-term warfare develops Once a death occurs, long-term warfare develops Villages split, or move away from enemies Villages split, or move away from enemies

24 24 Macro Movements from the old garden & village

25 25 Long-term effects of Macro Movements over 125 years 7 groups 7 groups Populations grow, fission into new areas Populations grow, fission into new areas Dozen villages derived from the same original village Dozen villages derived from the same original village

26 26 Peripheral villages – less warfare Peripheral villages – less warfare Interior villages – more warfare Interior villages – more warfare Interior villages have larger population, more complex organization Interior villages have larger population, more complex organization Unable to expand outward Unable to expand outward Factions develop Factions develop

27 27 There is a limit on the size of a group that can be organized cooperatively on the basis of kinship (50-200) There is a limit on the size of a group that can be organized cooperatively on the basis of kinship (50-200) If the village splits, they flee to a friendly village and live with them until new gardens can be established If the village splits, they flee to a friendly village and live with them until new gardens can be established Need to optimize – make gardens as far from enemies as possible & as close to allies as possible Need to optimize – make gardens as far from enemies as possible & as close to allies as possible Alliances are a cultural adaptation Alliances are a cultural adaptation The more allies, the less likely a village will be raided The more allies, the less likely a village will be raided

28 28 EVANS-PRITCHARD: SEGMENTARY LINEAGES Warfare is a consequence of lack of political control over potentially warring parties Warfare is a consequence of lack of political control over potentially warring parties This is a political explanation This is a political explanation Tribal society lacks organization beyond clan & community, thus endemic, small-scale warfare exists Tribal society lacks organization beyond clan & community, thus endemic, small-scale warfare exists

29 29 Segmentary Lineages Segmentary Lineages No leadership beyond the local groups No leadership beyond the local groups Equivalent units (segments) at each Equivalent units (segments) at each level level Mediation to settle disputes is within Mediation to settle disputes is within the lineage the lineage “Warriors without rulers” “Warriors without rulers” – Warfare is common

30 30 Segmentary Opposition

31 31 KOCH: SELF-HELP CONFLICT MANAGEMENT KOCH: SELF-HELP CONFLICT MANAGEMENT Warfare occurs in the absence of cross-cutting group affiliations Warfare occurs in the absence of cross-cutting group affiliations Cross-cutting loyalties inhibit conflict Cross-cutting loyalties inhibit conflict Formation of local power groups Formation of local power groups “CANNIBALISTIC REVENGE IN JALE WARFARE”– patrilineal, patrilocal “CANNIBALISTIC REVENGE IN JALE WARFARE”– patrilineal, patrilocal Men’s house aggregates men in one location Men’s house aggregates men in one location Segregation of men & women is characteristic Segregation of men & women is characteristic

32 32 There is an absence of 3 rd party institutions to arbitrate or mediate disputes There is an absence of 3 rd party institutions to arbitrate or mediate disputes Segmentation into politically autonomous local groups leads to self-help conflict management Segmentation into politically autonomous local groups leads to self-help conflict management There will be socialization that fosters a propensity for violence There will be socialization that fosters a propensity for violence

33 33

34 34 IS WARFARE UNIVERSAL? Navajo: Matrilineal, no political organization beyond the local level Navajo: Matrilineal, no political organization beyond the local level Coercion is deplored Coercion is deplored No one has the right to No one has the right to impose decisions on others Collective action is based on unanimous decision-making Collective action is based on unanimous decision-making

35 35 Hopi: Each village is politically independent Hopi: Each village is politically independent SODALITIES = Pan-tribal organizations that unify dispersed groups SODALITIES = Pan-tribal organizations that unify dispersed groups Dispute settlement is through kinship relations, not warfare Dispute settlement is through kinship relations, not warfare Ritual Societies Ritual Societies Kachina cult Kachina cult Medicine societies Medicine societies

36 36 Each ceremony is owned by a single clan, but performed by all members Each ceremony is owned by a single clan, but performed by all members Participation cross-cuts clans: Participation cross-cuts clans: Kachinas Medicine Clan A Clan B Clan C Clan D


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