Roots of Conflict: Soils, Agriculture, and Sociopolitical Complexity in Ancient Hawai`i

Edited by Patrick V. Kirch

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Departing from SAR’s conventional practice, the 2007 advanced seminar from which this volume is drawn consisted of a research team that had already worked together for a number of years. The Hawai`i Biocomplexity Project members have studied the dynamic coupling among landscape, agriculture, demography, and sociopolitical complexity in the Hawai`ian Islands since 2001. The group contends that the cultural and biological processes that developed and interacted in Hawai`i, from population growth and intensification of agriculture and resource extraction to the increasing centralization of political power and economic control, have happened everywhere and indeed are taking place globally today. “Our goal has been to use Hawai`i as a ‘model system’ to understand long-term coevolutionary interactions between people and ecosystems, or what might be termed ‘human ecodynamics,’” said Patrick V. Kirch, the seminar chair and volume editor. Kirch won the J. I. Staley Prize in 1998 with Marshall Sahlins for Anahulu: The Anthropology of History in the Kingdom of Hawai`i.

Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author Jared Diamond says, “As a model of interdisciplinary science, this book uses Hawai`i to showcase how collaboration between archaeologists, ecologists, paleobotanists, quantitative demographers, soil scientists, and scholars analyzing oral traditions can yield conclusions far exceeding the capacity of any one of those fields alone.”

Find out more and purchase Roots of Conflict by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

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