Keen: Constraints on the development of inequalities

The latest issue of Current Anthropology has the following article by Ian Keen:

Constraints on the Development of Enduring Inequalities in Late Holocene Australia: Ian Keen. volume 47 (2006), pages 7–38

Conditions in Late Holocene Australia, including variable and unpredictable environments, reliance on a wide array of food resources, relatively low population densities, some degree of mobility, and shared access to land and waters, contrast sharply with those posited as conditions for the emergence of complexity among hunter-gatherer societies such as those of the Northwest Coast of North America. Nevertheless, Aboriginal societies varied considerably in a number of ways, including resources of male power. In particular, the article contrasts features of “reproductive power” in the high- and very-high-polygyny societies of the north coast of Australia with those of other regions of the continent. High to very high polygyny developed in areas with relatively high population density and certain forms of kin classification and engendered considerable inequality among patri-groups, but various social and environmental conditions imposed constraints on the development of enduring hierarchy.

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