Re: War

J. Moore (
Fri, 26 May 95 12:50:00 -0500

KK> I apologize for not simply reseaching this myself -- I'm sure there is a
KK> wealth of information readily available. Nevertheless, I ask someone to
KK> take the time to briefly tell me about the nature and frequency of
KK> warfare among or within hunter-gatherer societies. Is the pattern of
KK> warfare within these groups indistinguishable from that seen when there
KK> is some form of significant agrarian dependency?

KK> Thanks very much for your time!

KK> Clay

The type of conflict called warfare as seen in small groups tends to
be different from large groups. The point where they differ (I would
say) is that point where the conflict is not "hot-blooded" or personally
against some person or group, but rather hositle action taken at
another's orders. In other words, what you see in wars is
people who don't necessarily have a personal grudge against the group of
people they're fighting, although such a grudge can be built up prior to
conflict through propaganda, and during a conflict through further
propaganda and the experiences suffered during the conflict. You don't
see this sort of thing in small groups, where there is often a grievance
set off by a particular incident, or a pattern of growing up in
the midst of ongoing (generally off-and-on) hostilities.

It's difficult to chart the beginnings of war-type actions (hostile
actions taken at another's orders), as it's difficult to distinguish
this sort of thing from banditry and defense, or even to say whether it
should be distinguished from that.

What also makes this a difficult subject is that saying the above is
often taken to mean that the speaker is saying that early human and
hominid groups were pacific, which is not what it says at all. Perhaps
because few people research widely in anthro anymore, they don't tend to
have much in depth background in the study of both conflict and
paleoanthropology (not to mention other subfields of anthro).

I do realise that I haven't answered your exact question, but have
instead somewhat redirected it in what I hope you may find to be a
more productive way ("small group vs. large group" instead of
"gatherer-hunter vs. agrarian"). And unfortunately, I don't have around
any of the syllabi regarding conflict which I've had access to and which
would give you some additional help; sorry. I might suggest you look
for info regarding possible origins of warfare (in mid-east
archeological sites approx. 6-8,000 years ago -- don't remember an
author [female author]), info regarding blood feuds (which would give
you an idea of how I'm differentiating conflict which is often armed and
bloody from warfare) (there was another [unremembered author] article
about blood feuds in eastern Europe, I believe in the area of what used
to be [for a while] Yugoslavia, where this sort of thing has been a
long-standing tradition).

Jim Moore (

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