The Growth and Collapse of Pacific Island Societies: Archaeological and Demographic Perspectives

The Growth and Collapse of Pacific Island Societies: Archaeological and Demographic Perspectives

by Patrick V. Kirch
     
 

In their accounts of exploration, early European voyagers in the Pacific frequently described the teeming populations they encountered on island after island. Yet missionary censuses and later nineteenth-century records often indicate much smaller populations on Pacific Islands, leading many scholars to debunk the explorers' figures as romantic exaggerations.

See more details below

Overview

In their accounts of exploration, early European voyagers in the Pacific frequently described the teeming populations they encountered on island after island. Yet missionary censuses and later nineteenth-century records often indicate much smaller populations on Pacific Islands, leading many scholars to debunk the explorers' figures as romantic exaggerations. Recently, the debate over the indigenous populations of the Pacific has intensified, and this book addresses the problem from new perspectives. Were there major population collapses on Pacific Islands following first contact with the West? If so, what were the actual population numbers for islands such as Hawai'i, Tahiti, or New Caledonia? Is it possible to develop new methods for tracking the long-term histories of island populations? These and related questions are at the heart of this new book, which draws together cutting-edge research by archaeologists, ethnographers, and demographers.

Rather than rehash old data and arguments about the validity of explorers' or missionaries' accounts, the contributors to this volume offer a series of case studies grounded in new empirical data derived from original archaeological fieldwork and from archival historical research. Various methods are advanced for estimating local and regional population sizes as well as tracing the long-term trajectories of population change in island societies. These approaches include the application of precontact household and settlement archaeology and estimates of agricultural production. Case studies are presented for the Hawaiian Islands, Mo'orea, the Marquesas, Tonga, Samoa, the Tokelau Islands, New Caledonia, Aneityum (Vanuatu), and Kosrae. Theyshow the capacity of island populations to grow rapidly in the environmental conditions of Remote Oceania and to achieve high population densities. Such levels were closely associated with social, political, and economic transformations. Following contact with the West and the introduction of diseases to which island populations typically had little or no resistance, populations often collapsed, with major consequences for their societies.

As the contributors demonstrate, the long-term demographic histories of Pacific Islands are of fundamental importance for understanding how island societies grew, developed, came into equilibrium or disequilibrium with their environments, and ultimately responded to the new challenges of contact with the West. This volume offers a fresh look at a critical topic in Pacific studies. It will be of interest to scholars in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, history, ethnic studies, demography, and sociology.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780824831486
Publisher:
University of Hawaii Press, The
Publication date:
01/28/2008
Edition description:
New
Pages:
390
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

List of Tables     vii
List of Figures     xi
Preface     xv
Long-Term Demographic Evolution in the Pacific Islands: Issues, Debates, and Challenges   Patrick V. Kirch   Jean-Louis Rallu     1
Pre- and Post-Contact Population in Island Polynesia: Can Projections Meet Retrodictions?   Jean-Louis Rallu     15
Demography and Food in Early Polynesia   Shripad Tuljapurkar   Charlotte Lee   Michelle Figgs     35
"Like Shoals of Fish": Archaeology and Population in Pre-Contact Hawai'i   Patrick V. Kirch     52
Modeling Agricultural Development and Demography in Kohala, Hawai'i   Thegn N. Ladefoged   Michael W. Graves     70
Paleodemography in Kahikinui, Maui: An Archaeological Approach   Patrick V. Kirch     90
Reconstructing Hawaiian Population at European Contact: Three Regional Case Studies   Ross Cordy     108
Pre-Contact Population in the 'Opunohu Valley, Mo'orea: An Integrated Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Approach   Brenda K. Hamilton   Jennifer G. Kahn     129
Estimating the Population of Hokatu Valley, Ua Huka Island (Marquesas, French Polynesia) According to the Archaeological Remains   Eric Conte   Tamara Maric     160
Archaeological Demography and Population Growth in the Kingdom of Tonga: 950 BC to the Historic Era   David V. Burley     177
Protohistoric Samoan Population   Roger C. Green     203
An Accent on Atolls in Approaches to Population Histories of Remote Oceania   Valerie J. Green   Roger C. Green     232
Prehistoric Population Growth on Kosrae, Eastern Caroline Islands   J. Stephen Athens     257
Population in a Vegetable Kingdom: Aneityum Island (Vanuatu) at European Contact in 1830   Matthew Spriggs     278
What were the Real Numbers? The Question of Pre-Contact Population Densities in New Caledonia   Christophe Sand   Jacques Bole   A. Ouetcho     306
Concluding Remarks: Methods, Measures, and Models in Pacific Paleodemography   Patrick V. Kirch     326
References     339
List of Contributors     375
Index     377

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >