single causes and states

Assoc Prof Iain Davidson (idavidso@METZ.UNE.EDU.AU)
Mon, 24 Apr 1995 09:08:30 +1000

Carter Pate's post raises some interesting issues, but seems to me to miss
a rather important one. State formation has always been a curious topic
for archaeologists, dominated as it has been by the setting of criteria for
its recognition that so closely mimic one set of characteristics of
Victorian England. Graham Connah wrote an excellent book trying to make
the case for African Civilizations, and what Carter Pate seems to be doing
is to try to "elevate" a whole bunch of other societies to statehood by
slipping around the edges of these (or rather other) criteria. Leaving
aside the phenomenon we know in Australia as the "cringe", in this case a
matter of PC attempts to give indigenous people a label that might push
them up the notional ladder (unnecessarily), what seems to be going on here
is a confusion arising from the grouping together of phenomena that may not
be appropriately generalised. We are then looking for an explanation of a
grouping that is an artefact our own propensity to overgeneralise. There
is a single cause here, but it is not a cause of "statehood".

Iain Davidson
Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology
University of New England
Armidale, NSW 2351
Tel +61 +67 732 441
Fax +61 +67 732 526