"The Other Half of the Sky": Competitive Anarchy in Contact-Era Palau

Author(s): Nick Belluzzo

Year: 2018


This paper explores the way in which contact-era Palauan society negotiated between hierarchy and heterarchy to ensure long-term sociopolitical stability, developing and deploying a theory of competitive anarchy. The evaluation critiques the frequent correlation of complexity with hierarchy and centrality and does so through a geostatistical analysis. This investigation begins with the development of a proposed model of Palauan sociopolitical structure, derived through ethnographic descriptions contextualized with re-readings of contact-era narrative accounts. This proposed model provides a hypothesis which is tested in a geographic information system (GIS) through the geostatistical analysis of regional settlement patterns and the distribution of village sites across the landscape at multiple scales. Through modelling clustering and dispersion of village sites across the landscape, the evaluation of central places and authority in Palau suggests the presence of meaningful settlement patterns at both local and regional scales. The results suggest that intentional and complex social structures can allow competition while both limiting social inequality and ensuring group cohesion.

Cite this Record

"The Other Half of the Sky": Competitive Anarchy in Contact-Era Palau. Nick Belluzzo. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442999)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 153.633; min lat: -51.399 ; max long: -107.578; max lat: 24.207 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22599