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Questioning Collapse

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Questioning Collapse
Cambridge University Press
9780521515726 - Questioning Collapse - Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire - Edited by Patricia A. McAnany and Norman Yoffee
Frontmatter/Prelims

Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire

Questioning Collapse challenges scholars and popular writers who advance the thesis that societies – past and present – collapse because of behavior that destroyed their environments or because of overpopulation. In a series of highly accessible and closely argued essays, a team of internationally recognized scholars brings history and context to bear in their radically different analyses of iconic events, such as the deforestation of Easter Island, the cessation of the Norse colony in Greenland, the faltering of nineteenth-century China, the migration of ancestral peoples away from Chaco Canyon in the American Southwest, the crisis of Lowland Maya kingship, and other societies that purportedly “collapsed.” Collectively, these essays demonstrate that resilience in the face of societal crises, rather than collapse, is the leitmotif of the human story from the earliest civilizations to the present. Scrutinizing the notion that Euro-American colonial triumphs were an accident of geography, Questioning Collapse also critically examines the complex historical relationship between race and political labels of societal “success” and “failure.”

Patricia A. McAnany is Kenan Eminent Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A member of the editorial board of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, she has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is the principal investigator of the Xibun Archaeological Research Project in Belize (www.bu.edu/tricia) and of the Maya Area Cultural Heritage Initiative (www.machiproject.org), which works with descendant Maya communities. She has authored Living with the Ancestors: Kinship and Kingship in Ancient Maya Society; edited K’axob: Ritual, Work and Family in an Ancient Maya Village; and recently co-edited Dimensions of Ritual Economy.

Norman Yoffee is a scholar of ancient Mesopotamia and social evolutionary and anthropological theory. He teaches in the Departments of Near Eastern Studies and Anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author and editor of eleven books, including Myths of the Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States, and Civilizations; Excavating Asian History: Interdisciplinary Studies in History and Archaeology; and Negotiating the Past in the Past: Identity, Memory, and Landscape in Archaeological Research, as well as the editor of the Cambridge World Archaeology series.


Questioning Collapse

Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire

Edited by

Patricia A. McAnany

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Norman Yoffee

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
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Cambridge University Press
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Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521733663

© Cambridge University Press 2010

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2010
Printed in the United States of America

A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Questioning collapse : human resilience, ecological vulnerability, and the
aftermath of empire / edited by Patricia A. McAnany and Norman Yoffee.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978–0-521–51572-6 (hardback) – isbn 978–0-521–73366-3 (pbk.)
1. Social archaeology. 2. Archaeology and history. 3. Civilization –
History. 4. Regression (Civilization) 5. Resilience (Personality trait) –
History. 6. Human ecology – History. 7. Imperialism – History. 8. Race
relations – Political aspects – History. I. McAnany, Patricia Ann. II. Yoffee,
Norman. III. Title.
CC72.4.Q44 2009
930.1 – dc22 2008044128

ISBN 978-0-521-51572-6 Hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-73366-3 Paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urls for external or third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


Contents

List of Figures
vii
Contributors
xi
Preface and Acknowledgments
xv
1         Why We Question Collapse and Study Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire
Patricia A. McAnany and Norman Yoffee
1
Part I.   Human Resilience and Ecological Vulnerability
19
2         Ecological Catastrophe, Collapse, and the Myth of “Ecocide” on Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
Terry L. Hunt and Carl P. Lipo
21
3         Did the Medieval Norse Society in Greenland Really Fail?
Joel Berglund
45
4         Calamities without Collapse: Environment, Economy, and Society in China, ca. 1800–1949
Kenneth Pomeranz
71
Part II.  Surviving Collapse: Studies of Societal Regeneration
111
5         Marketing Conquest and the Vanishing Indian: An Indigenous Response to Jared Diamond’s Archaeology of the American Southwest
Michael Wilcox
113
6         Bellicose Rulers and Climatological Peril? Retrofitting Twenty-First-Century Woes on Eighth-Century Maya Society
Patricia A. McAnany and Tomás Gallareta Negrón
142
7         Collapse in Ancient Mesopotamia: What Happened, What Didn’t
Norman Yoffee
176
Part III. Societies in the Aftermath of Empire
205
8         Advanced Andeans and Backward Europeans: Structure and Agency in the Collapse of the Inca Empire
David Cahill
207
9         Rwandan Genocide: Toward an Explanation in Which History and Culture Matter
Christopher C. Taylor
239
10        “Failed” States, Societal “Collapse,” and Ecological “Disaster”: A Haitian Lesson on Grand Theory
Drexel G. Woodson
269
11        The Power of the Past: Environment, Aborigines, Archaeology, and a Sustainable Australian Society
Tim Murray
299
12        Excusing the Haves and Blaming the Have-Nots in the Telling of History
Frederick Errington and Deborah Gewertz
329
Part IV.  Reflections on Sustainability
353
13        Sustainable Survival
J. R. McNeill
355
Index
367

List of Figures

1.1         Areas of the world, past and present, discussed in the chapters of this book.
3
2.1         Giant stone statues (moai) at Ahu Tongariki, Rapa Nui.
22
2.2         Rapa Nui and southeastern Pacific.
23
2.3         Mature Jubaea chiliensis palms at La Campaña National Park (32°51′S), mainland Chile.
27
2.4         Grasslands of Rapa Nui today.
27
2.5         Excavations at Anakena Dune, Rapa Nui, University of Hawai’i archaeological field school, 2005.
29
2.6         Hawaiian Islands showing the ’Ewa Plain on O’ahu Island and Ohi’apilo Pond on Moloka’i Island.
31
2.7         Pritchardia palms, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kaua’i, Hawaiian Islands.
31
2.8         Pritchardia remota palms still growing on Nihoa Island, northwest Hawaiian Islands. Nihoa Island has not sustained impact from introduced rats.
33
2.9         Prehistoric rat-gnawed Jubaea nuts from Rapa Nui.
35
2.10        Close-up view of prehistoric rat-gnawed Jubaea nuts from Rapa Nui.
35
2.11        Distribution of habitation sites dated by obsidian hydration.
39
2.12        Contemporary Rapanui (native Polynesians who live on the island today) take a break on their horse.
40
3.1         A simple trowel.
46
3.2         “Odd persons.”
47
3.3         Salt sprinkler.
50
3.4         The Norse sphere of interest in the North Atlantic.
51
3.5         Inuit attack on the church of Hvalsey.
53
3.6         Ruin of the church of Hvalsey.
56
3.7         Sheep grazing on a mountain pasture in the Qollortoq Valley.
58
3.8         Artifacts made of reindeer antlers as a substitute for or a supplement to iron.
60
3.9         Ruin of the church “Undir Höfdi” built around 1300 c.e.
62
3.10        Ruin of the church of Herjolfsnæs.
63
3.11        Historic climate changes from 600 to 1900 c.e.
65
3.12        A fight scene between two fighters equipped with swords and shields.
66
4.1         Comparison of Zheng He’s flagship with Columbus’ fleet.
72
4.2         China divided into “macroregions.”
78
4.3         Distribution of water resources in China today.
79
4.4         Population growth map, 1776–1990.
83
4.5         Map of Taiping advance, showing movement from highland to lowland areas.
89
4.6         Human Development Index for China.
98
4.7         Percentage of public ownership.
99
5.1         Regions of ancestral Southwestern peoples.
115
5.2         Ancestral O’Odham agricultural features: canal and irrigation system in Phoenix area.
119
5.3         Urban sprawl of Phoenix, Arizona.
126
5.4         National Park Service sign at the entrance to Chaco Canyon.
128
5.5         Distribution of Great Houses and Kivas within Chaco Canyon.
129
5.6         Architectural complexes of Chaco Canyon.
130
5.7         Rainfall trends from Chaco Region.
131
5.8         Construction dates for the Great Houses of Chaco Canyon.
131
5.9         Chaco Canyon in relation to Chuska Mountains and contemporary pueblos.
132
5.10        Diagrams of wooden beam construction used for roofing at Chaco Canyon.
133
6.1         Maya region showing archaeological sites mentioned in text and prominent descendant populations.
144
6.2         Stela J, showing K’ahk’ Tiliw Chan Yoaat (Sky Smoking Tapir) of Quirigua.
147
6.3         Stela 24 from Naranjo, Guatemala, showing Lady Wak Chanil Ajaw (Lady Six Sky).
148
6.4         Martial aspects of rulers: Stela 2, Aguateca, Guatemala, and Stela 12, Piedras Negras.
150
6.5         Large Classic period house platform at the Sibun valley site of Cedar Bank, Belize.
152
6.6         Canal and planting surfaces from modification of wetlands at Maya site of K’axob, Belize.
152
6.7         Palace of Labna constructed during the Late-Terminal Classic period.
156
6.8         Jasaw Chan K’awiil I, divine ruler of Tikal from 682 to 734 c.e.
157
6.9         Tulum, scaled-back Late Postclassic monumental architecture.
160
6.10        Portion of an excavated circular shrine, Late to Terminal Classic period, Sibun Valley, Belize.
161
6.11        Fruiting cacao trees growing in the Sibun Valley of Belize.
161
6.12        Q’eqchi’ and Mopan Maya schoolchildren, Toledo District, Belize.
164
6.13        Classic Maya royal female figurine.
165
6.14        Cristina Coc, Director, Julian Cho Society, Toledo District, Belize.
166
7.1         Map of ancient Mesopotamia showing Assyria, Babylonia, and sites mentioned in this chapter.
179
7.2         Mesopotamian tablets in cuneiform script.
180
7.3         Art and architecture of Neo-Assyrian empire.
181
7.4         Extent of Old Assyrian trade network.
185
7.5         Old Assyrian hierarchy.
186
7.6         Middle Assyrian hierarchy.
188
7.7         Neo-Assyrian hierarchy.
191
7.8         Assyria without the state.
193
7.9         A modern Assyrian ceremony.
196
7.10        Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church, Detroit, Michigan.
198
8.1         Map of Tahuantinsuyu.
208
8.2         Portrait of Alonso Chiguan Inca.
212
8.3         Parish of San Cristóbal.
218
8.4         Marriage of Captain Martín de Loyola with Beatriz Ñusta.
219
8.5         Portrait of unidentified colonial Inca Ñusta.
220
8.6         Niño Jesús de Huanca dressed as Inca.
232
9.1         Map of Rwanda.
240
9.2         Christopher Taylor, 1984, during his first field season in Rwanda.
241
9.3         Political cartoon using metaphor of rivers.
259
9.4         Assassination of Melchior Ndadaye.
261
9.5         Metaphorical Eden, political cartoon.
262
9.6         Karaso drum symbolism in political cartoon.
263
9.7         Theme of political castration.
264
10.1        Caribbean region including southernmost states of the United States.
272
10.2        Haitianist at work conducting interviews during the St. Martin Patron Saint Festival in the town of Dondon.
273
10.3        Island of Hispaniola showing Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
274
10.4        Making boards from a tree trunk near Petite-Rivière des Bayonnais.
283
10.5        Haitian trees are not just for charcoal, boards, and poles.
290
11.1        Pleistocene archaeological sites in greater Australia (Sahul).
306
11.2        Archaeologist Mark Grist.
308
11.3        Key archaeological sites of Tasmania.
312
11.4        Excavated remains of house at Burghley, Tasmania.
316
12.1        Papua New Guinea.
332
12.2        Sergeant Yali and his comrades on the World War II submarine Dace.
334
12.3        Casuarina trees in Papua, New Guinea.
343




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