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Rita Smith Kipp and Edward M. Schortman - The Political Impact of Trade in Chiefdom Societies

Rita Smith Kipp and Edward M. Schortman - The Political Impact of Trade in Chiefdom Societies

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The Political Impact of Trade in ChiefdomsAuthor(s): Rita Smith Kipp and Edward M. SchortmanSource:
American Anthropologist,
New Series, Vol. 91, No. 2 (Jun., 1989), pp. 370-385Published by:
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RITASMITHKIPPEDWARDM. SCHORTMANKenyonCollege
The PoliticalImpactof TradeinChiefdoms
Tradetheoriesofstateformationhavefailedtospecifyradeas marketbehavior,and toappreciatethepoliticalroleofimported uxurygoodsinchiefdoms.Whenluxurygoodsand other valuablecommoditiesbecomeavailablethroughhe marketratherthanthrough nterpersonal, hieflyex-changes,theelite'spower depends ncreasinglyon economicexploitationand the controlofarms.Archeologicaldatafromseveral ocalesillustrate thedisruptiveandformativeeffectsoftradedias-porasinchiefdoms.
(
rTHEPROBLEMOFSTATEFORMATION,"DECLAREDONE BURNT-OUTparticipant
I
in aninvited session onthattopic,"has become overworkedintheanthropolog-icalliterature,atheoreticalobsession that runs therisk ofyieldingnonewinsightsandproducinglittle more thanhackneyedgeneralizationswhichareunlikelytospawninno-vativeresearch"(Kohl 1987a:21).Contrarytothatpessimism,we seeameasure of con-sensuson what are theproblem'simportantelements,andintheremainingriddles ofstateformation,asignificantincentiveandguidefor researchinarcheologyandethnol-ogy.Thisarticlesynthesizesinsightsfrom recentarcheologicalresearch,worldsystemstheory,and Marxistanthropologytosuggesta newwayofthinkingabout the roleof tradeinsecondarystate formation.True,older theoriesof state formation that focused on one orafew causal variables-irrigation,resourceconcentration, militarism,or trade-havegivenwaytoless certitudeandclarity.Itappearsthat theremaywell have been "different routes" to statehoodindifferentplaces(Haas1982:209;see also Cohen1978a:8;Flannery1972;Hindess andHerst1975:40).Cohen describesas"self-limiting"aprocessthatbeginsfromdifferentinitialconditions,butthrougha"funnel-likeprogressionofinteractions"convergeseven-tuallyintoasimilar form:centralizedpolitiesthat rulethroughthe threat orexercise offorce(1978b:142).Whilesuggestingthat the role of tradeinpoliticalcentralization de-servesa secondlook,especiallyasit interacts with othervariables,we are notsuggestingareturn tomonocausal,unilinearexplanations,nordefiningthestateas "anabstractconfigurationof institutionswith universalproperties"(Gledhilland Rowlands1982:146).Forus, too,the issue willbe,simply,"about the evolution ofnewformsofdominancemechanisms"(Gledhilland Rowlands1982:146).StartingwithV.Gordon Childe(1936, 1942),manytheorists havesuggestedthat tradeisacriticalvariableintheemergenceofthe state.(SeeHaas1982forarecent reviewandappraisalof tradeandothertheories of stateformation.)Sometrade theories havead-dressedthegenesisofprimarystates(e.g.,Johnson1973;Rathje1971, 1972;WrightandJohnson1975);othershavesuggestedthattrade wasimportantinspawning secondarystates(e.g.,Adams1974;Posnansky1973;Webb1974,1975).While we examinetheroleof tradeinsecondarystateformation,wedo notinterprettrademerelyas amechanismofdiffusionbut find itsimpactinthe local andregionalpolitical economy.Indeed,theeffectsoftrade andthemarket insomeprimarystates are no doubtsimilartowhat we
RITASMITHKIPPis AssociateProfessor, Department ofAnthropologyandSociology,Kenyon College,Gambier,OH43022.EDWARDM. SCHORTMANsAssistantProfessor, DepartmentofAnthropologyandSociology,Kenyon College.
370
 
KippandSchortman]POLITICALMPACTFTRADENCHIEFDOMS 371suggesthere,andgiventhenewermulticausal modelsof stateformation,theprimary/secondarydistinctionappearsmuchlessimportantthan it once did(Haas1981:83;cf.Haas1982:4-5;Yoffee1979).Whetheraparticulararcheologicalculturerepresentsa chiefdomor a state is notin-frequentlydisputed.Theoriesofprimarystatesthattracetheirbeginningsfrom"forma-tive"periodsofpopulationgrowthandanever-mountingcentralizationofpowerportrayagradualprocess.Overtime,cumulativechangesresultina"quantumleap"into anewkind ofpolity(Earle1987:281;Fried1967:239).Itis reasonabletoassume,however,thatinsecondarystateformation,themain focus of ourattentionhere,the transitionwas oftenrelativelyabrupt,asachiefdomor rankedsocietywaspropelledinto statehoodthroughdirect orindirect contactwithapreviouslyexistingstate.Inourview,thesignificantdifferencebetweenchiefdomand state is notsimplya scalardifferenceofsize,nor thedistinctionbetweenlocalsovereigntyversusincorporationintotranslocalpolities(c.f.Carniero1970, 1981;Price1978).Rather,the sourceofpoliticalauthoritychanges.As Webbputit,theproblemis how themonopolizationof forceandofthewealth thatmakes itpossibleemergeinsocialorganizationsthatinhibit the con-centration ofpowerandthe accumulationofwealth(1975:157).It is notnecessarytophrasethisnoveltyas oneinvolvingthemonopolyofpower;sufficientis a"paramountcontrol" overlocalsystemsthatmayretainsomeprerogativestouse force on their own(Carniero1981:68;Yoffee1979).Still,the issueisconceptualizinghowtheconcentrationofforceemerged.Carnieroand others havearguedthat centralizationat theexpenseof localautonomyhappensonly throughaprocessofcoercion. Themaintenanceof forcepresupposesacon-comitant amassmentof wealth.Thequestionbecomes, then,how toconceptualizetheconcentrationof wealthinsocietieswhere "economicpower...[is]a function of thegen-eralizedleadershiprole,rather thanthe reverse"(Webb1975:180),societies where lead-ers'accumulationof wealthwas oncecheckedbythepressureto begeneroustowardfollowers(Webster1975:446).Theories ofthe statefrequentlypositthat controlof economicprocesses-either pro-ductive ordistributive-isthe essentialsource ofstatelypower(Engels1972;Fried1967:186ff.).Trade theoriesof stateformation describetrade asavaluable resource re-quiringadministrativeoverviewandprotectionbyforce.Assumed orexplainedis theideathat rulers use theprofitsfromtrade topayfor astandingforce ofarmsthatcanthenbe used to furthermonopolizeor controltrade,towagewarfarewithoutsiders,andtoextract labor andsurplusproductionfrom followers(FriedmanandRowlands1978;Has-elgrove1987:106-107;Posnansky1973;Price1978;Rathje1972;Webb1975:179).Oldertheories were oftenpredicatedon animageof tradeinstaplesbetween areas ofunevenavailability(e.g.,Childe1936;Rathje1971;WrightandJohnson1975).Tradeinluxurygoodswaspoorlyintegratedinthese theories.TourtellotandSabloff,forexample,distinguishedbetween tradegoodsthat areUseful(ofpracticalvalue)asopposedtoFunctional(ofstate orritualvalue),proposingthat tradeinUsefulproductswas anin-centivefor state formationinhighlandMexico. TradeinFunctionalproductswas"notcritical"inthetransformation ofranked societiesintostates,theyconclude(1972:132).Rathje(1971)and Price(1978)reachsimilarconclusions.Some recentwriters,however,focus on the effects of tradein"preciosities"orsump-tuarygoods(e.g.,Blanton and Feinman1984;Friedman and Rowlands1978).Gledhilland Rowlands caution thatsignificantinterregional exchangescannot bereduced to ma-terialflows(1982:147). Luxurygoodsobtained from distant sources are oftendistributedtoreproduceasystemofrank,status,or offices withinapolity(Frankensteinand Row-lands1978).Schneider contendsthat theluxurygoodsthat welded alliancesandsecuredclients'loyaltieswere"nolesscritical thanfood"tothe"mobilization ofenergy"inpre-capitalist polities(1977:23, 27).Thissuggeststhatluxurygoodsmayhavegreaterweightinapoliticaleconomythan theircomparativelysmallvolume wouldimply.Infact,we

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