Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Warfare and Complex Societies

I am seriously beginning to suspect that someone in the New York Times is taking our class and using it as their inspiration for articles in the newspaper. Today's paper has an article about warfare and the rise of the state. As you no doubt recall from our lecture, this theory, also known as Circumscription Theory, has been around for quite some time. According to the article, recent archaeological finds seem to support this hypothesis.
Dr. Stanish believes that warfare was the midwife of the first states that arose in many regions of the world, including Mesopotamia and China as well as the Americas.

The first states, in his view, were not passive affairs driven by forces beyond human control, like climate and geography, as some historians have supposed. Rather, they were shaped by human choice as people sought new forms of cooperation and new institutions for the more complex societies that were developing. Trade was one of these cooperative institutions for consolidating larger-scale groups; warfare was the other.

Warfare may not usually be thought of as a form of cooperation, but organized hostilities between chiefdoms require that within each chiefdom people subordinate their individual self-interest to that of the group.

“Warfare is ultimately not a denial of the human capacity for social cooperation, but merely the most destructive expression of it,” the anthropologist Lawrence H. Keeley writes in his book “War Before Civilization” (Oxford, 1996).
(Note the use of the term "complex societies" in this excerpt.)

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Myth and Star Wars

Since we will not have a chance to watch this excellent film about myth in class, I thought I would place it here for you guys to see. The movie discusses the mythological elements of the Star Wars movie series. Please watch at least the first hour of the movie.