The Challenge of Explanation

Patrick Vinton Kirch

in How Chiefs Became Kings

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267251
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947849 | DOI:
The Challenge of Explanation

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This chapter presents an explanatory model of cultural change in Hawai'i. It also argues that any compelling theory of change must attend to both ultimate and proximate causations, to long-term context and process, and to short-term dynamism and agency. The work of four scholars has been particularly influential in Hawaiian cultural change: Irving Goldman, Marshall Sahlins, Robert Hommon, and Timothy Earle. They have all drawn attention to elements of the Hawaiian case that are important in constructing a robust explanatory model of the emergence of archaic states. It is shown that the intertwined linkages between land, population, agriculture, and surplus provide one set of dynamic, long-term causal factors which are essential to explaining the emergence of Hawaiian archaic states. Chiefs did not become kings solely through increasing their extraction of surplus, or by taking direct control over land allocation.

Keywords: Hawaiian cultural change; Hawai'i; Irving Goldman; Marshall Sahlins; Robert Hommon; Timothy Earle; Hawaiian archaic states; chiefs; kings

Chapter.  17323 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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