August 2011 Blog Posts (24)

INTERNET USE TO REINFORCE CHIEFSHIP

In my book, The Creation of Political Domination: From the Paleolithic to the Present I present scores of history and ethnographic cases describing how aspiring men fabricated symbolic representations to rise to power and attempt to stay there by controlling the flow of information.  This process of fabrication began with the advent of a storable-stealable-surplus roughly in the early years of the Neolithic and continues today. 

In this short article I want to outline the way…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 31, 2011 at 4:00pm — No Comments

CHAPTER 3. [Part 2] REDISTRIBUTIVE SOCIETIES – THE BEGINNING OF AGGRANDIZEMENT

From the book: The Creation of Political Domination: From the Paleolithic to the Present by Eugene L. Mendonsa, Ph.D

 

The Emergence of Stratification in Little Chiefdoms

 

Clastres seems to pine for simplicity and order in Amerindian society; while the Yokut-Mono data show men strategizing and scheming on the backstage of office.  The…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 27, 2011 at 4:07pm — No Comments

CHAPTER 3 [PART 1]. REDISTRIBUTIVE SOCIETIES – THE BEGINNING OF AGGRANDIZEMENT

(From the book: The Creation of Political Domination: From the Paleolithic to the Present by Eugene L. Mendonsa, Ph.D)  Part 2 follows

Acephalous Societies

As I have said, aggrandizers are born in every society in every epoch.  Some are born into a cultural habitus (milieu) that is conducive to their acquisitive nature – the need to control others and desirable material goods.  Others were not born into conducive circumstances and their…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 27, 2011 at 3:53pm — No Comments

Of Poesis: Art and Craft

Anthropological discourse is constitutive of this debate, yet philosophy and social theory seem to have adopted a more clear stance towards this debate. Anthropology seems to limit this to definitions of ethnography - and even then, there is an explicit tendency - or better tension, between traditional combinations of 'doing fieldwork' and theorising about it.

 

I would truly welcome comments from either perspective on this blog: …

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Added by Rodanthi Tzanelli on August 27, 2011 at 2:34pm — 2 Comments

A CALL FOR POLECONOMIC ANALYSES OF POLITIES

Anthropologists interested in political anthropology and/or economic anthropology need to think in terms of poleconomics.  In some of my publications I have used the term poleconomics to indicate that political power and economic clout go hand-in-hand.  That is, those with great wealth either attain high office or have greater than average influence over politicos and political processes.  On the one hand, being in office can open up opportunities to achieve great wealth if one makes the…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 25, 2011 at 3:00pm — No Comments

Summary of Anthropology Programs in the U.S.

Ancient Digger has posted a list of all U.S. Archaeology and Anthropology programs.  Naturally, my Alma Mater (Arizona State University) is first!

 

I would have found this to be a huge time saver when looking for a graduate school.

Added by Paul Wren on August 24, 2011 at 3:54pm — No Comments

Ethnography of commercial spaces and commercial relations

I work in the field of hypermarkets since 1999 but I've never left behind my passion for anthropology. My site www.etnografiaretail.com is intended for collecting materials and works concerning anthropology of consumption, economic anthropology and more specifically the construction of an ethnography of commercial spaces and social relations involved in modern commerce.

Could you…

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Added by Gianluca Mantoani on August 23, 2011 at 10:01pm — 5 Comments

The Most Famous Anthropologist You Have Never Heard Of

His name was Umesao Tadao.

 

A Japanese Indiana Jones, Umesao did fieldwork in Afghanistan and Central Asia and later hiked on foot over much of Southeast Asia and Europe, in search of evidence bearing on his ecological theory of civilizations, a mixture of Marx and Hegel modified through his own observations. He saw Eurasia divided into Region 1, a periphery where rich soils and temperate climates made possible the development of agricultural civilizations, feudalism, and then…

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Added by John McCreery on August 17, 2011 at 6:30pm — 3 Comments

POLITICAL CONTROL: ANCIENT & MODERN

     In history and many ethnographic treatises we see office-holders and their subordinate officials seeking to create upward flows of tribute.  They essentially used five means to produce rents: (1) They inexorably moved to control a portion of primary producers’ output.  (2) They also conquered neighboring communities to transform them into tribute-paying clients.  (3) Another tactic was to control artisans and the production of prestige items.  (4) A further device was to control traders…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 17, 2011 at 5:02pm — No Comments

THE ECB, THE FED & POLECONOMICS – THE WIZARDS OF OZ

In my writings on political economy I have often used the term poleconomic to highlight the fact that politics (the use of power) is never unconnected to those with economic clout.  They are two sides of a coin.  Persons with political power are usually either wealthy or in bed with the rich; and those with lots of money almost always try to influence those with political power.  The majority of citizens stand on the sidelines.

 

The situation in our present globalized…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 16, 2011 at 3:00pm — 7 Comments

Alternating Generations

One of the first memorable things I learned studying anthropology was an idea called "alternating generations." The theory was that in societies where parents are held responsible for disciplining their children, grandparents could be indulgent playmates. I remember, too, reading in Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword that the Japanese envisioned life as a great shallow arc, in which pre-school children and the elderly are seen as much alike, innocent, indulged, free…

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Added by John McCreery on August 15, 2011 at 11:31pm — 3 Comments

APATHY AND RIOTING: TWO APPROACHS TO A FRACTURED POLITICAL ECONOMY

 The common folks of my small unincorporated village in Northern California are grumbling about capitalism’s negative impacts on their lives.  They usually don’t phrase it like that, but rather they blame the government or the rich or a given political party or the whole bunch of them that the folks of my community call “they.”  “They are screwing us.”  But we don’t have any riots in my village – ones like we see in the streets of the Middle East, London, Greece, Chile or now Israel. …

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 14, 2011 at 4:22pm — No Comments

Other Anthropologies, Consider Japan

When I talk or write about anthropology, works by American, British, and sometimes French, anthropologists instantly come to mind. Like, I suspect, most of us here, I have huge blind spots when it comes to anthropologists from other places. 

I was reminded of this recently when The Word Works, Ltd., the the translation and copywriting company that Ruth and I run in Japan, was asked to do some work for the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, generally referred to in Japanese as…

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Added by John McCreery on August 13, 2011 at 5:30pm — 2 Comments

THE AGENCY VS. STRUCTURE DEBATE

Asa M. Larsson wrote: “The whole structure-agency debate that still carries on in various forms owes a lot to Marxism as well.”  I do not see that connection, specifically, but I am open to being educated on the subject.  Rather, more broadly I see those anthropological theorists advocating agency, of whom I was one, as arising out of a reaction against positivism, structural-functionalism and the mechanicalism of Durkheim and his followers.  I can see how it could also have arisen as a…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 12, 2011 at 4:48pm — No Comments

Writing the riots

 

Just after ten o’clock on Monday night, there was the first intimation that trouble was coming: sounds of a mass moving up the street outside – a sense of heavy presence. Turning off the lights, I looked out of the window. Down below, some sixty people were milling about. The constituency of the crowd was mixed: some white, some black, some Asian, though mostly young men. Many of them were hooded, their faces further hidden behind bicycle breath-masks, bandanas, or more…

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Added by Philip Swift on August 11, 2011 at 12:12am — 4 Comments

THE LONDON RIOTS AND CAPITALISM'S CONTRADICTION

In the recent London riots, two young English youths were interviewed on camera and made interesting comments.  One girl, who was drinking from a bottle of purloined wine, said:  “We showed the police and the rich people that we can do anything we want.”  Her friends and accomplices were nodding in agreement.  Another young man said he and his friends were angry because they had wanted to go to university, but recent changes by government had prevented this. 

Anger seethes in the…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 10, 2011 at 5:56pm — 14 Comments

RANK & STRATIFICATION HAVE HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

The Whitehall studies[1] found a strong association between grade levels of civil servant employment and mortality rates from a range of causes.  For instance, males in the lowest grade (messengers, doorkeepers, etc.) had a mortality rate three times higher than that of males in the highest grade (administrators).  These and other studies indicate that those in the lower ranks of society, the poor and powerless especially,…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 8, 2011 at 3:40pm — No Comments

POLITICAL DOMINATION'S ORIGINS: SPECULATION OR ETHNOHISTORY?

Recently, a colleague suggested that any analysis of the origins of political domination falls into the category of speculation or philosophy, that which my teachers at Cambridge would have called “armchair anthropology.”  But that is an easy way of ignoring the fact that we have a great deal of historical and ethnographic data to bolster any speculative hypotheses.  

 

Here is my hypothesis:  The origins of political domination lie in the early structures formulated as kin…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 7, 2011 at 4:58pm — 2 Comments

WHY EDUCATED PEOPLE SHOULD BE AFRAID OF THE AMERICAN POLITICAL CLIMATE

The Republicans and the Tea Party nuts claim that we should not raise taxes on corporations or rich individuals because they are “job creators.”  That is a crock of you-know-what!  Under the Bush Administration and subsequently the rich and big corporations have not been heavily taxed and many corporations and rich individuals cleverly avoid paying the taxes they are supposed to pay.  Under these conditions, according to Tea Party and their Republican lackeys, the rich should have been freed…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 6, 2011 at 1:51am — No Comments

CONTRADICTIONS OF CAPITALISM

The present crises in the global economy are a fulfillment of academic predictions that capitalism has internal contradictions that will eventually destroy it as a viable economic option.  There are two: (1) capitalism in its industrial production uses natural products (e.g., petroleum, minerals) and converts them into unnatural (polluting) products that are returned to nature, thereby slowly destroying the natural balance on earth.  The emissions into our atmosphere are the ones that are…

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Added by Eugene L. Mendonsa on August 5, 2011 at 7:38pm — 8 Comments

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