Essays on Chiefdoms

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1. The social structure of chiefdom is a hierarchical society in which some people have greater access than others to wealth, rank, status, authority and power. According to Scupin, many Polynesian chiefdoms rule of succession is based on primogeniture in which the eldest son assumed the status and realm of the father. This helped to avoid power struggles when a chief died. Chiefly Authority was more limited among the Trobrianders than was among the Hawaiians and Tahitians. The Trobriand chief has to work to expand his area of power and status and prevent other chiefs from destroying or diminishing his ancestral rights. A Trobriand chief gained rights, legitimacy, and authority through descent. Generosity was one of the most important aspects of Trobriand. If it is not demonstrated, the chief’s power, authority and legitimacy diminish and another more generous people within the chiefly family can replace them. Hawaiian Society was divided into various social strata composed of descent groups. The highest-ranking noble strata were district chiefs and their families the ali’i. The highest-ranking descent groups, the eldest child inherits the position of the father. Above the ali’i were the ali’i nui, the paramount chiefs who ruled over the islands. Paramount chiefs and district chiefs were treated with reverence and extreme respect. Chiefs did not have absolute power. Conflicts arose constantly to the chiefs by rival leaders who made genealogical claims for rights to succession. If a chief was unable to show their authority and power through redistribution of food, land, goods, and warfare against rival claimants challengers could increase their political power while the chief’s power is diminished. There was less order more revolts and the noble lineage is simply replaced by another.

The Nuer

2. There were many difficulties the Nuer faced in adapting to their new lives in the United States. The difficulties were things that we use in out day-to-day lives to make things easier or better for our lives. To us money is important, essential to survive- to the Nuer, money is a challenge in almost all of its aspects, making, and using, and even saving it is all a new concept to them. Our main source of transportation, cars was an easy concept for the Nuer to understand that they were necessary for going places. The Nuer ended up seeing the automobile as more of a problem due to the payments, maintenance and other liabilities that come attached to a car. Another simple thing that we take for granted, the microwave was but an additional foreign object to the Nuer. A family went a good portion of the day without food because they could not warm or cook any food. It was even difficult for them to accept the help from a neighbor where in their village people would work together to sustain themselves. The Nuer were also used to having their elders around to seek advice of all sorts, even marital advice. In Nuer villages, men and women lived separately while in the United States they are forced to live together in houses or apartments. Nuer men did not perform any domestic duties in Sudan but here they had to take on more responsibilities and prepare their own food. Something that struck me as more surprising is the birth process. At one point in our history men were not in the birthing room as the Nuer practiced. Personally, I would want my child’s birth father in the room to see the pain of childbirth, since he could not ever experience it. The Nuer honestly has a better chance adapting to our culture than we would to theirs.

Agricultural States

3. There have been numerous theories on the reasons for the collapse of states. One explanation that has arisen is the depletion of key resources as a result of human mismanagement or climatic change. In an agricultural state, conditions that interfered with or destroyed the society’s ability to produce agriculture...
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