Yocom Anthro Paper 2

Yocom Anthro Paper 2 - Yocom 1 Blake Yocom Anthropology 225...

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Yocom 1 Blake Yocom Anthropology 225 Professor Earle TA: John Millhauser Essay 2 18 May 2009 Chiefdoms and the Black Disciples In the past five thousand years, the striking anthropological observation has been the disappearance of independent territories and autonomous peoples and the rise of larger and more powerful states. The family-level of organization has all but disappeared or been engulfed by a higher political authority. Between the time of nomadic hunter-gatherers, the family-level and local group levels of societal organization and the modern 192 countries that comprise the United Nations, the structure of chiefdoms was prevalent. However, the characteristics of the chiefdom and organizations that embody them can be still be found within our current political structures. The Black Disciples are a gang thriving on the streets of Chicago that uses the same institutional structure as the chiefdoms studied throughout history. The principles of surplus, service, and control allowed for the rise of chiefdoms and the powers of the economy, the military, and ideology allowed for their sustainability. Chiefdoms have been described as “social technology to solve critical problems” (Earle, p.68). The social nature of humans creates the inevitability that within all societies there are people who desire leadership and high social status. Through this social disposition, a political system develops, oftentimes kin-based, into chiefdoms. Chiefs cannot rely on kinship alone and thus turn to economic, military, and ideological power as described in Timothy Earle’s, How Chiefs Come to Power . Of the three sources of power on which chiefdoms survive, not one can be singled out as being the only source of power. Each method depends upon the other two to create a viable chiefdom. Although each source cannot act individually, economic power bears the most
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Yocom 2 weight. Military power in and of itself was a weak and poor political strategy. Ideological power is expressed more as a means to justify the other two than as an ultimate power. Chiefdoms depend upon “the interrelationship among the powers” rather than on the powers individually (Earle, p.192). Economic power translates into political control of everything from land to food. Most economies in chiefdoms are redistributive; meaning the chief or his designated authority would collect a product and spread it throughout the community. The “emergence of a regional redistributive economy where chiefs receive goods from economically specialized communities in order to allocate them where needed” (J & E, pg.254).
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Yocom Anthro Paper 2 - Yocom 1 Blake Yocom Anthropology 225...

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