Controlled comparison and Polynesian cultural evolution
Kirch, P. V. 2010 Controlled comparison and Polynesian cultural evolution. In J. Diamond and J.A. Robinson (eds.) Natural Experiments of History. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Polynesian colonisation – ‘natural experiment’ in the development of different political systems/cultural change. Three case studies: Hawai’i, the Marquesas and Mangaia.
Methodology: archaeological, (ethno)historical, ethnographic records drawn from – triangulation. But comparison is tricky: must distinguish between shared cultural traits (homologies) and borrowed cultural traits (synologies), p. 19. Here phylogenetic (tree-like) model adopted.
Findings. From ancient Polynesian societies (APS) they evolved pre-contact into:
(a) Mangaia: limited resources, resource depletion, warfare, violence, militarism
(b) Marquesas: like Mangaia, plenty of competition & warfare; but unlike Mangaia here political fragmentation owing to isolation and geographic dispersion; economic differences as well – in Mangaia taro irrigation, here breadfruit arboriculture dominated.
(c) Hawai’i: social and politically changed away from APS origins far more than other two; archaic state emerging out of chiefdoms; divine kingship invented; keeping in check both warriors and priests.