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Chapter 10

Week 8 - Harris Chapter 10, 11, 12, Kane Chapter 17, 18

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University of Guelph
ANTH 1150
Satsuki Kawano

Harris Chapter 10 Law and Order in Band and Village Societies • Despite the presence of conflict, simple hunter-gatherer societies enjoy a high degree of personal security without having any rulers or law and order specialists • Band and village societies are embedded in the subsistence economy and are: small in size, equal access to resources and technology, similar and self-sufficient households and all households produce all their needs by means of a division of labour by age and sex • An egalitarian society lacks formalized differentiation in access to and power over basic resources among its members • The subsistence economy is essentially the household economy, it is organized at the household level to meet basic needs, like food, clothing, housing, defense and technology • The political economy regulates the flow of goods in large multifamily settings and supports existing power relationships • As communities grow and the landscape becomes more crowded, the political economy expands and so does the power of its leaders • In band and village societies, all adult shave access to the rivers, lakes, beaches, and oceans, the plants and animals and the subsoil and soil • Neighbouring bands contain many intermarried kin and therefore commonly share access to resources as a result of mutual visiting • Everyone among the !Kung is recognized as entitled to the necessities of life by right of being a member of society • The members of even the most egalitarian societies usually believe that weapons, clothing, containers, ornaments, tools and other personal effects should not be taken away or used without the consent of the owner • The accumulation of material possessions is rigidly limited by the recurrent need to break camp and travel long distances on foot and most utilitarian items can be borrowed without difficulty • The existence of private property does not lead to inequalities in wealth and power because, according to the rules of reciprocity, people can ask openly for possessions and such requests cannot be denied • When disputes occur in small egalitarian societies, the disputants rely on the backings of their kin groups for support • The important thing is to mobilize public opinion on one side or the other decisively enough to prevent the outbreak of large-scale feuding • The Inuit song duel is a classic example of how public opinion influences the support that disputants can expect from their respective kin groups • Among the Central and Eastern Inuits, issues are settled at large public meetings, the disputants take turn singing insulting songs and the court of public opinion responds to each performance with different degrees of laughter • They have no police or military specialists, so the court decisions cannot be enforced and sometimes wife swapping leads to murder • Shamans are part-time practitioners of magicoreligious rites of divination and curing, and skilled in slight of hand and the techniques of trance and possession • Most cultures reject the idea that misfortune results from natural causes and believe that it is a result of witchcraft by psychic powers and it is the shamans job to identify the culprit through divination Headmanship • A headman, unlike a specialist as a king, president or dictator, is a relatively powerless figure, incapable of compelling obedience • Never certain of being able to punish physically those who disobey • A group will follow an outstanding hunter and defer to his opinion with respect to choice of hunting posts, but in all other manners the leaders opinion carries no more weight than that of any other adult • They have achieved status that requires them to lead by example and persuasion • An achieved status is acquired through talents, efforts and accomplishments rather than ascription • The Semai of Malaya—the headman is the most prestigious figure among a group of peers, he can assert his authority when he is dealing as a representative of his people, mediating a quarrel if invited to do so and selected and apportioning land for fields, headman is expected to be generous, give away more of the catch than anyone else while fishing and must not choose the best for himself, he motivates others to avoid conflict and restrain violence • Mechanisms for preventing a homicide from flaring into a protracted feud include the transfer of substantial amounts of prized possessions from the slayers kin group to the victims kin group • The leopard skin chief is an outside mediator, believed to have supernatural powers, who is called on to resolve disputes between kin groups and prevent the escalation of hostilities Nonkin Associations: Sodalities • Sodalities are non-kinship based groups that span several villages and serve widely different functions • Exclusive men or women’s clubs, involving men or women who partake in public or sectet performances that reinforce regional solidarity through ritual Warfare among Hunters and Gatherers • War is armed combat between groups of people who constitute separate territorial teams or political communities • Some hold that warfare occurred in the Stone age and others than it was absent until the advent of chiefdoms and states • The Andaman Islanders, Shoshoni, Yahgan, Mission Indians of California and the Greenland Eskimo have been offered as exceptions to the claim that warfare is universal to human life, there are some 50 societies that are classified as nonviolent, but the peacefulness of some could have resulted from having been defeated and forced into more marginal territories when warfare was practiced in earlier times, about 37 hunter gatherer societies are associated with warfare but that could be due to the shocks of contact with state societies • There is a fine line between warfare and personal retribution among hunters and gatherers • Hunters and gatherers seldom try to annihilate each other, they often retire from the field after one or two casualties have occurred, yet the cumulative effect may be quite considerable Warfare among Sedentary Village Societies • The more people invest in improving their environment, the more likely they will defend their territory and take land or other resources from the defeated group Why Way • War as an instinct (innate aggressive tendencies) • War as sport, however, warfare violently disrupts peoples lives, it brings casualties and a general decline in the quality of life • War as revenge • War as a struggle for reproductive success • War as a struggle for material benefits • Band and village people go to war because they lack alternative solutions to problems of securing resources in response to subsistence needs and environmental depletion • Outbreaks of violence are fueled by tensions resulting from scarcity of key resources • The Yanomami move out of their village 3 or 4 times a year and trek through the deep forest for a month or more where they prepare new gardens and try to find meat • Plenty of forested land suitable for expanding the old gardens remains available near the old communal house and the new communal house and gardens are not located near the old house but several km away • Moving improves the accessibility of game animals that have been hunted out or frightened away from the old sites, warfare among the Yanomami and other tropical forest peoples therefore can be readily understood as a form of competition between autonomous villages for access to the best hunting territories • High male age sex ratios are found in societies with high levels of warfare , which reflects direct and indirect infanticide practiced against females more often than against males • A plausible reason for the killing and neglect of the female children is that success in the nonindustrial warfare depends on the size of male combat teams; having more males is desirable because it increases the groups ability to protect its women and children from raids by neighboring villages • The desire for steel is a driving force in warfare Warfare, the Politics of Prestige and the Big Man System • A rank society has equal access to economic resources and power, but social groups have unequal access to status positions and prestige • A big man is a local entrepreneur who successfully mobilizes and manipulates wealth on behalf of his group in order to host large feasts that enhance his status and rank relative to other big men in the region, he is a man of prestige and renown but has no formal authority or power nor more wealth • Mae Enga of Papua New Guinea attempt to neutralize external threats by maintaining a large unified group that shows strength in numbers, collaborating in accumulating food and wealth that is given away at ceremonies to increase their prestige and obligate other groups to reciprocate and being strong and wealthy so that they will be attractive as allies for defensive purposes Harris Chapter 11: Origins of Chiefdoms & The State The Evolution of Political Systems • There’s a strong positive relationship between population growth and socioeconomic complexity • Population growth’s consequences on subsistence economy: 1. As resources are depleted, people turn to more costly alternatives that modify environment and improve productivity through technology and resource management 2.as landscapes become crowded there is potential for food shortages and aggressive competition over the most desired resources • As political economy evolves a surplus (tax) is mobilized from subsistence economy to finance economic, military, religious institution • These institutions are used to support and justify elite ownership of region’s resources • Political economic growth results in interrelated evolutionary processes: 1.intensification 2. Political integration 3. Social stratification • Political integration functions to coordinate production, distribution and defense in multifamily settings • Services provided by leaders afford opportunities to control production and allocation of resources -leads to stratification From “Big Man” Systems into Chiefdoms • Headmen function as intensifiers of production and redistributors • Big men emerge when technological and ecological conditions encourage intensification -leaders in the same village become rivals • They compete to redistribute the greatest amount of valuables -the most successful gets labeled “big men” and gain prestige • To evolve into chiefdoms, changes in the big men system must happen: 1. Size of population -chiefdoms are larger communities 2. Leadership -chiefdoms are based on stratification -there’s a hierarchy of offices at regional and community levels • At lower end, chiefdoms are similar to big men systems -Trobrianders • At upper end, chiefdoms approximate states -Hawaii • As population size increases the distinction between leaders and followers widens Big Man vs Chief Big Men Chief • Big men build power by attracting • Chief comes into power that’s vested in followers inherited office • Big men must constantly validate their • Chiefs have an ascribed status: status determined at birth • Big man does not have an improved • Chief lives better than commoners, standard of living, the importance is on more access to resources, has many generosity wives, owns prestige valu
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