Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Carniero's Theory of Circumscription

Could Robert Carniero's theory of circumscription be applied to Tai and Burmese expansionary warfare during our period (c 1350-1600)? A brief summary:

"Population growth in itself is insufficient to engender warfare, but population pressure does engender warfare if the expanding populations is constrained either by environmental barriers or by competing social groups whose populations area is so dense as to preclude expansion."

The Tai warrior explains to the Chinese general in the Ming Annals: "We are like that hawk. When we take land we control and live off it" (my paper, page 313-14; Ming Annals entry).Two of the conditions along the Burma-Ming China frontier were:

"7. Shan expansion to the east into China was not possible, 8. Expansion to the south into Upper Burma was an easier natural alternative for territorial expansion" (page 1159, recent paper).

There's a more detailed description of Carniero's theory here.