Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Carniero’s Environmental Circumscription (Feedback diagram)

Here is a crib sheet for Carniero's theory of environmental circumscription in state formation:

1. Warfare usually disperses people rather than uniting them.

2. Environmental Circumscription: An area of circumscribed agricultural land is bounded by mountains, sea, or desert. Productive land is surrounded by unproductive land, i.e. more extensive cultivation would bring severely diminishing returns.

3. If there is no environmental circumscription, than losers in a war can migrate out from the region and settle somewhere else.

4. If there is environmental circumscription:

a. Then losers in warfare are forced to submit to their conquerors because migration is not an option.

b. The populations of the conquered and conqueror are united.

c. The new state organization alleviates the population pressure by increasing the productive capacity of agricultural through more intensive cultivation using irrigation, for instance.

5. Example 1: Amazonian Indians could always retreat into deeper forest, whereas American Indians could not.

6. Example 2: The mountainous river valley’s of Peru were severely environmentally circumscribed. More intensive terrace cultivation under one large state was the result.

7. Primary state development: The six original states: Nile Valley, Peru, Mesoamerican, Yellow River Valley China, Indus River Valley, Mesopotamia.

8. Secondary state development: States that developed from contact with already existing states.

9. Primary state development occurred in areas with environmental circumscription.

Source of diagram: Wheatley, Paul (1983) Nagara and Commandery: Origins of Southeast Asian Urban Traditions, The University of Chicago, Department of Geography, Research Paper 207-208 [Carniero’s feedback diagram is on p. 22, but there is no real textual explanation of it]

Source of explanation: Lewellen, Ted C. (1992) Political anthropology: An Introduction, Second Edition. Westport Connecticut, London: Bergin and Garvey.