The Historical Archaeology of States and Non-States: Anarchist Perspectives from Hawai‘i and Vanuatu
Keywords:Historical anthropology, Vanuatu, Hawai‘i, anarchist theory
Pat Kirch’s work throughout Oceania has been driven by the idea that islands lend themselves especially well to comparative analysis. Recently, Kirch has argued that the most elaborate forms of Oceanic socio-political hierarchy, ideological control, and agricultural intensification evolved in the Hawaiian archipelago, resulting in the emergence of archaic states. In Vanuatu, in contrast, elite power was much less institutionalized, and nothing state-like had emerged in the archipelago at the time of European contact. Starting from two very different forms of social organization, the colonial and post-colonial histories of Vanuatu and Hawai‘i are markedly different as well. Archaeology has a useful role to play for understanding why this might be, especially since it can provide a perspective that reaches beyond the limited documentary sources available for people living on the peripheries of state power in the modern world. Materials from agents of the state living in non-state space, and inmates in a state institution are compared to explore the interpretive potential of a common thread of behavior, termed “counterpower”.