ANT100Y - Social/Cultural Anthro Lecture # 3

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17 Apr 2012

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ANT100Y Social/Cultural Anthro Lecture # 3
Thursday March 15th/12
Horticultural/Pastoral Continuum
From: (less socially complex)
Relatively egalitarian
Low surplus production
Resources circulate by simple kin group affiliation: reciprocity
o Different kinds of reciprocity
To: (with intermediate forms) (to more socially complex)
More hierarchical
Modest surplus production for exchange
Ranked kin groups
Hereditary chiefs
o Occupy an office, an institutional form that outlasts the incumbent who is in
that position at the time (think of prime minister office)
o Born in to a position, ascribed status, a blood line
Reciprocity and redistribution
o Goods flow from periphery to center, then redistributed out to a variety of
Social complexity:
From being very minimal at top to far more elaborate
Links several ecological zones
Coordinate and distribution across zones
Surplus produced for exchange
Kin groups ranked vis a vis each other
Hereditary chief occupies an enduring office
Big Man vs. Chief
o Big man entrepreneur, does not inherit his role, focus for regional
exchange, not hereditary office, maintains his position only as long as he can
give things away, needs resources to tie other people to him, has to be
persuasive to get prestige
o Chief clever at using his families resources to invest in other people,
makes contracts with others, lend out animals
Example: trobiand islands
Example: Pre-colonial Hawaii
o Rule of premageneter
o Chief passed from a man to his first born son, etc.
o Lineages ranked on basis of relative age
o Elder vs. 2nd child etc.
o Chief was a deity
o Chief can start wars, defense
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Chief coordinates the redistribution of surplus
o As well as long distance trade and defense
Trobriand Island villages:
Chiefs village  garden farm, yam farms, river farms, coastal village
Very common form of exchange
Example… gov of Canada me, you, mom, dad
Pastoral Societies:
Range from relatively egalitarian tribes to hierarchical mobile chiefdoms (iraq, iran)
Chiefs coordinating movement, overseeing trade, mediate conflict
Why the range of social forms among pastoralists and horticulturalists?
Are resources (farmable land, pasture) freely available or restricted by population
pressures, neighbouring groups? (… e.g. means of production)
Many chiefdoms located on islands
Are there physical barriers to human and animal mobility?
KINSHIP and MARRIAGE: build in obligations to cooperate, share and reciprocate
(moral economy)
Some questions………Can we leave if we disagree with our neighbours? Can we
survive? Will it be more or less costly to stay?
*Small scale societies exchanges are personalized, depend on relations between people,
Different than now….. in Canada – impersonal market, do not come in contact w/
people who produce our food
Personalized exchange: reciprocity, redistribution
Horticultural and pastoral surpluses are perishable
How are they used?
o Shared: feasting maintaining relationships
o Saved in the short term: smoking, salting, dying
Surpluses subject to claims of kin…. Obliged to reciprocate to family
Way surpluses can be transformed into SPECIAL PURPOSE MONEY
Example: livestock
o Excess yams… can be fed to pigs, pigs grow/reproduce themselves
o S.P.M. useful because the pig will live longer than the yam will stay fresh
o Way to store a surplus temporarily
o Used to cement marriages (bridewealth, dowry) loan to clients (big man) or
convert back to food
Stateless societies/social control:
Achieve integration and peace thru norms tradition and moral obligations
Sanctions (informal): gossip, shame, withdrawal of support, banishment
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