Essays on Chiefdoms

Chiefdoms 1. The social structure of chiefdom is a hierarchical society in which some people have greater access than others to wealth, rank, status, authority and power. According to Scupin, many Polynesian chiefdoms rule of succession is based on primogeniture in which the eldest son assumed the status and realm of the father. This helped to avoid power struggles when a chief died. Chiefly Authority was more limited among the Trobrianders than was among the Hawaiians and Tahitians.

The Trobriand chief has to work to expand his area of power and status and prevent other chiefs from destroying or diminishing his ancestral rights. A Trobriand chief gained rights, legitimacy, and authority through descent. Generosity was one of the most important aspects of Trobriand. If it is not demonstrated, the chief’s power, authority and legitimacy diminish and another more generous people within the chiefly family can replace them. Hawaiian Society was divided into various social strata composed of descent groups.

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The highest-ranking noble strata were district chiefs and their families the ali’i. The highest-ranking descent groups, the eldest child inherits the position of the father. Above the ali’i were the ali’i nui, the paramount chiefs who ruled over the islands. Paramount chiefs and district chiefs were treated with reverence and extreme respect. Chiefs did not have absolute power. Conflicts arose constantly to the chiefs by rival leaders who made genealogical claims for rights to succession.

If a chief was unable to show their authority and power through redistribution of food, land, goods, and warfare against rival claimants challengers could increase their political power while the chief’s power is diminished. There was less order more revolts and the noble lineage is simply replaced by another. The Nuer 2. There were many difficulties the Nuer faced in adapting to their new lives in the United States. The difficulties were things that we use in out day-to-day lives to make things easier or better for our lives.

To us money is important, essential to survive- to the Nuer, money is a challenge in almost all of its aspects, making, and using, and even saving it is all a new concept to them. Our main source of transportation, cars was an easy concept for the Nuer to understand that they were necessary for going places. The Nuer ended up seeing the automobile as more of a problem due to the payments, maintenance and other liabilities that come attached to a car. Another simple thing that we take for granted, the microwave was but an additional foreign object to the Nuer.

A family went a good portion of the day without food because they could not warm or cook any food. It was even difficult for them to accept the help from a neighbor where in their village people would work together to sustain themselves. The Nuer were also used to having their elders around to seek advice of all sorts, even marital advice. In Nuer villages, men and women lived separately while in the United States they are forced to live together in houses or apartments. Nuer men did not perform any domestic duties in Sudan but here they had to take on more responsibilities and prepare their own food.

Something that struck me as more surprising is the birth process. At one point in our history men were not in the birthing room as the Nuer practiced. Personally, I would want my child’s birth father in the room to see the pain of childbirth, since he could not ever experience it. The Nuer honestly has a better chance adapting to our culture than we would to theirs. Agricultural States 3. There have been numerous theories on the reasons for the collapse of states. One explanation that has arisen is the depletion of key resources as a result of human mismanagement or climatic change.

In an agricultural state, conditions that interfered with or destroyed the society’s ability to produce agriculture surplus would have had serious consequences. Researchers have suggested that resource depletion may be the result of sudden catastrophic events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods that have had an impact on agricultural lands as well as other resources. In an article from National Geographic News, climate is spoken of as “A Culture Killer”. The article states: “In Mesopotamia, a canal- supported agricultural society collapsed about 3,400 years ago.

The paleoclimatic record; suggest a severe 200-year drought may have caused the society to collapse. With wetter conditions, civilizations thrived in the Mediterranean, Egypt, and west Asia. Ten years after their economic peak in 2300 BC, however, catastrophic drought and cooling hurt agricultural production and caused regional abandonment and collapse. ” Many theories stress the tension or conflict resulting from social stratification. The peasants see mismanagement, excessive taxes, demands for food and labor, or other form of exploitation by a ruling class as instigating revolts or uprisings.

Another theory that researchers have viewed collapse as a result is the failure to adapt to change. When a society becomes inflexible and unable to transform when conditions have changed this is an indication that a collapse society maybe in their future. Joseph Tainter argues that most researchers assume that the decline in complexity associated with collapse is a catastrophe: “An end to the artistic and literary feature of civilization and the umbrella of service and protection that an administration provides are seen as fearful events, truly paradise lost. Tainter says that when people’s investment in complexity fails to produce benefits, they opt for disintegration. “Complexity is generally understood to refer to such things as the size of a society, the number and distinctiveness of its parts, the variety of specialized social roles that it incorporates, the number of distinct social personalities present, and the verity of mechanisms for organizing these into a coherent, function whole. ” No agricultural states remain; many traditions and religious practices are still around today. Mapes, Jen. “Climate Change Linked to Civilization Collapse. National Geographic News. Feb 2001. Oct 2008 http://news. nationalgeographic. com/news/2001/02/0227_climate4. html Tainter, Joseph. “Complexity, Problem Solving, and Sustainable Societies. ” 1996. Oct 2008. http://www. dieoff. org/page134. htm 4. The hunter and gatherers had a great self-sustaining way of life. From their survival techniques evolved the domestication of animals and plants, which then led to intensive agriculture, which is the cultivation of crops by preparing permanent fields year after year, often using irrigation and fertilizers.

This enables a population to produce enormous food surpluses to sustain dense populations in large, permanent settlements. Agriculture developed around the major river valleys of the Near East in Mesopotamia and Egypt, but there were no such areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Geographical and ecological advantages have played an important role in where agricultural civilizations developed. Some areas did not have geographical barriers such as mountains, rain forests, or deserts that inhibited the flow of agricultural patterns from one area to another. Industrial States . A racist belief going back deep into Western history talks about how Europeans were superior mentally and intellectually. The European industrial revolution did not develop as a result of the unique genius intelligence or particular superior cultural values of Europeans, but as an unpredictable sequence of prehistoric and historical processes. Most of the plants and large mammals that could be domesticated existed in the Near East and this pattern of plant and animal domestication spread into the Eurasian continent that included china and Europe.

Harvests were abundant and domesticated animals enabled the Near Easterners, Europeans and Asians to develop cities with large populations, governments, specialized economic systems and writing systems. There were no major obstacles such as geographical barriers that inhibited the spread and diffusion of this agricultural package across the Near East and Mediterranean areas to the Eurasian continent. Then the Europeans developed the technological knowledge and political power to conquer other areas of the world that did not have these resources.

The diffusion of agriculture and domesticated animals happened quickly in Europe and Asia because there were not geographical barriers. This gave Europe the edge in the initial beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. A major factor leading to the emergence of industrial states in European society was the increased contact among different societies primarily through trade. The upper class and royalty of agricultural European society encourages long distance trade as a means of accumulating wealth. Their principal motivation was to build a elf-sufficient economy as a basis for extending their centralized government. Mercantilism is a system in which the government regulates the economy of a state to ensure economic growth, a positive balance of trade, and the accumulation of gold and silver. One result of the mercantilist trade was the beginning of global unity. These encounters led to new patterns of trade, political developments and the transmission of beliefs, ideas and practices. Soon, through the use of military force, European trade came to displace the Asian and Islamic trading empires.

As economic wealth began to amass in Europe, through the accumulation of gold, silver and other commodities from the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the political center of power also swung to Europe. Ideas and technology that were developed in the civilizations of China, India, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas provided the stimulus for the emergence of scientific enterprise in Europe. Eventually, scientific methods based on deductive and inductive local were allied with practical economic interest to prove the basis for the industrial revolution in Europe.

Without the diffusion of knowledge and technologies from other regions of the world, Europe would not have been able to develop the Industrial Revolution. 2. Industrialization has made kinship less important compared to preindustrial states. There are many other organizations and structures that take the place of kinship. Occupational and economic factors are two examples that take the place of kinship. In industrialized societies, people can have access to wealth and power without having to come from a certain type of family.

Because of the Industrial Revolution, there has been a rise to middle class families. Kinship alone is not the fundamental determinant of social status and rank that it had been in most preindustrial societies. The family’s economic role has change because of the industrialized society. Employers began to hire individual workers for labor in mines, factories, and other industries, the extended family, as a corporate unit would no long function economically. The nuclear family replaced the extended family while marriage and divorce increasingly reflected personal choice and love.

Globalization The Roman Catholic Church played a major role in Latin American society during the colonial period. After the Spanish authorities rules that the Indians did have souls and could be saved, various missionaries began to convert the Indians to Catholicism. The Indians were relocated and too spread out to protect them from the abuses of colonialism. Generally, the Indians of Latin America readily accepted Catholicism. A process of religious syncretism developed, in which indigenous beliefs and practices blend with those of Christianity.

The central theological view of Christianity that Jesus died to save us from our sins was acceptable to people who performed human sacrifices for the salvation of Mesoamericans. Despite the official position of the Catholic Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, indigenous religious traditions have survived for centuries, partly because Catholicism has evolved over a long period in Europe. The slaves that were imported from Africa to Latin America and the Caribbean brought traditional religious ideas and practices that were also absorbed into Catholicism.

Catholic traditions are mixed with African beliefs and practices. Syncretistic traditions combining traditional African religions and Catholicism are sometimes called spiritism and are evident in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. With European colonization in Africa came missionaries who established schools to spread Christianity. Many sent their children to the Christian schools because this education offered opportunities for better jobs and high social status; many that were educated later became part of the elite.

The missionaries believed that to be “saved” Africans had to leave their current practices and fully embrace Christianity. Ethnocentrism and racism led the teachings of the missionaries to make the Africans feel as if their culture was wrong and brought feelings of self-hatred. Like in Latin America syncretistic movement arose in Africa, they were referred to as the “Zionist, Spiritual or Prophet”. Finally in most cases, these syncretistic traditions combining traditional spiritual beliefs and Christianity have played a pivotal role in political movements throughout Africa.

Because of western expansion and missionaries, religious changes have occurred in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. The extended family is the ideal in the Middle East. The traditional household as seen by Arabs, Turks, and Iranians is made up of the patriarch, his wife and one or more married sons and their families, and unmarried daughters and sons. As industrialization and consequent urbanization influence the Middle East, the nuclear family is becoming the normative pattern. The ideal of the nuclear family appears to be most prevalent among the middle and upper classes, which are most influenced by globalization.

Lower socioeconomic classes, especially families involved in agriculture, the extended family is more important. Marriage is a fundamental obligation in the Islamic tradition. Generally, every Muslim male and female must be married. Marriage is a sacred contract between families legalizing intercourse and procreation. Islamic societies are known to promote polygyny. Although polygyny is permitted and represents a norm from traditions within the Qu’ran in Muslim societies, most marriages are monogamous. Arranged marriages are based on parental decision and still dominate in Islamic societies.

Until recently, some Saudi Arabian males did not see their wives until the wedding day. As both males and females become more educated and achieve greater economic independence from their parents, they enjoy greater freedoms in mate selection, though typically in many communities, females have much less choice. Divorce just like polygyny where males have the decision to perform it. A male does not need much justification to obtain a divorce. A Muslim wife did not have the same rights to obtain a divorce.

When could divorce her husband for reasons like impotence, insanity and lack of economic support and a sympathetic judge to prove them to. It is more difficult to generalize divorce and marriage in the Muslim world. The Western image of the Arab or Muslim woman is frequently that of a female hidden behind a veil and completely dominated by the demands of a patriarchal society. According to the Islamic tradition, before the origins of Islam females were treated negatively. Islam condemns all sexual immorality, prescribing severe penalties for adultery.

Islamic religious texts prescribe a specific set of statuses and corresponding roles for females to play in the Muslim family. Each status, daughter, sister, wife and mother carry certain obligations, rights, privileges and duties, which are influenced by the patriarchal ideals of the Islamic texts. In the Qu’ran (iv: 34) “Men are in charge of women, because God hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are obedient. ” Another traditional ode in Islamic law shows the patriarchal attitudes toward women with respect to political and legal status of a man. A woman is granted half the legal status of a man. Women are less experienced and less capable than men in political and legal affairs. Despite legal reforms and access to education in some Muslim societies, the notion that women are subordinate to men to some extent remains firmly entrenched. To us Westerners, the veil and shapeless garments worn by women symbolize the patriarchal order of the Islamic societies. Purdah is the institution of female seclusion.

Women should remain unseen by men who are not close relatives. A Pakhtun proverb states: “The woman’s place is in the home or the grace. ” If a woman broke her Purdah, her husband might kill her or cut off her nose as punishment as a means of cleaning his honor. When leaving the house, women are obliged to wear dress, which is customary chador through this women keep their Purdah. For many Muslim women the veil is one way in which they can affirm their Islamic religious and cultural identity and make a political statement of resistance to western power and influence.

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