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When Worlds Collide

Hunter-Gatherer World-System Change in the 19th Century Canadian Arctic

T. Max Friesen

Publication Year: 2013

Interactions between societies are among the most powerful forces in human history. However, because they are difficult to reconstruct from archaeological data, they have often been overlooked and understudied by archaeologists. This is particularly true for hunter-gatherer societies, which are frequently seen as adapting to local conditions rather than developing in the context of large-scale networks. When Worlds Collide presents a new model for discerning interaction networks based on the archaeological record, and then applies the model to long-term change in an Arctic society.
Max Friesen has adapted and expanded world-system theory in order to develop a model that explains how hunter-gatherer interaction networks, or world-systems, are structured—and why they change. He has utilized this model to better understand the development of Inuvialuit society in the western Canadian Arctic over a 500-year span, from the pre-contact period to the early twentieth century.
As Friesen combines local archaeological data with more extensive ethnographic and archaeological evidence from the surrounding region, a picture emerges of a dynamic Inuvialuit world-system characterized by bounded territories, trade, warfare, and other forms of interaction. This world-system gradually intensified as the impacts of Euroamerican colonial activities increased. This intensification, Friesen suggests, was based on pre-existing Inuvialuit social and economic structures rather than on patterns imposed from outside. Ultimately, this intense interacting network collapsed near the end of the nineteenth century. When Worlds Collide offers a new way to comprehend small-scale world-systems from the point of view of indigenous people. Its approach will prove valuable for understanding hunter-gatherer societies around the globe.
Interactions between societies are among the most powerful forces in human history. However, because they are difficult to reconstruct from archaeological data, they have often been overlooked and understudied by archaeologists. This is particularly true for hunter-gatherer societies, which are frequently seen as adapting to local conditions rather than developing in the context of large-scale networks. When Worlds Collide presents a new model for discerning interaction networks based on the archaeological record, and then applies the model to long-term change in an Arctic society.
Max Friesen has adapted and expanded world-system theory in order to develop a model that explains how hunter-gatherer interaction networks, or world-systems, are structured—and why they change. He has utilized this model to better understand the development of Inuvialuit society in the western Canadian Arctic over a 500-year span, from the pre-contact period to the early twentieth century.
As Friesen combines local archaeological data with more extensive ethnographic and archaeological evidence from the surrounding region, a picture emerges of a dynamic Inuvialuit world-system characterized by bounded territories, trade, warfare, and other forms of interaction. This world-system gradually intensified as the impacts of Euroamerican colonial activities increased. This intensification, Friesen suggests, was based on pre-existing Inuvialuit social and economic structures rather than on patterns imposed from outside. Ultimately, this intense interacting network collapsed near the end of the nineteenth century. When Worlds Collide offers a new way to comprehend small-scale world-systems from the point of view of indigenous people. Its approach will prove valuable for understanding hunter-gatherer societies around the globe.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Editorial Board, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-9

List of Figures

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pp. ix-11

List of Tables

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pp. xi-13

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xv

Although it has changed a great deal, this book originated as my PhD dissertation, which was defended in 1995. Since then, I have contemplated its publication several times but was always pulled in other directions. In the summer of 2009, I finally began an extensive overhaul and updating of the text and the ideas behind...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-3

Intersocietal interaction is one of the major forces driving culture change and is a universal phenomenon. Whether studied in terms of diffusion, acculturation, exchange, warfare, colonialism, transmission of disease, or any of its other facets, this process has helped shape the nature of all societies, past and present. Even in the most...

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2. The World-System Approach to Intersocietal Interaction

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pp. 4-24

This book uses, and builds on, a framework derived from worldsystem theory in order to understand the nature of intersocietal interaction in the past. However, the study of interaction is an enormous and diverse realm of research, with many approaches employed depending on the researchers’ backgrounds, primary data sets...

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3. Hunter-Gatherer World-Systems

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pp. 25-49

Hunter-gatherers interact for the same reasons that all other societies do. They seek economic security, marriage partners, the defense and well- being of their families and allies, social status, and an understanding of the world around them. An extensive literature exists on all of these aspects of hunter- gatherer interaction, in both ethnographic...

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4. Background to the Case Study: Archaeology and Ethnohistory of the Mackenzie Delta Region

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pp. 50-68

The remainder of this book revolves around the application of world- system theory to the Inuvialuit culture history of Herschel Island and the Mackenzie Delta region1 from approximately 1500 to 1910 ad. The research has two primary goals: to understand the role of interaction in Inuvialuit cultural development...

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5. Changing Inuvialuit World-Systems: Expectations

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pp. 69-83

In this chapter, the various strands of culture history and theory already discussed will be woven together to develop a set of expectations about how Inuvialuit world-systems were organized and how they may have changed as they became more and more closely connected to the Europe an world- economy. These expectations...

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6. The Qikiqtaruk Archaeology Project: Excavations on Herschel Island

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pp. 84-136

To apply world- system theory to the archaeological record of the Mackenzie Delta region, previously published archaeological and ethnohistoric sources, as reviewed in Chapter 4, can be used to evaluate some of the expectations outlined in Chapter 5. However, a significant gap in the culture history of the Mackenzie Delta...

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7. The Qikiqtaryungmiut World-System in the Autonomous Zone

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pp. 137-157

The Inuvialuit population of Herschel Island was located in the autonomous zone of the Europe an world- economy from its initial occupation by early Thule people to about 1800 ad. It is hypothesized that during this period the region was part of a world- system with relatively low breadth and depth. Following are evaluations...

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8. The Qikiqtaryungmiut World-System in the Contact Periphery

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pp. 158-178

After approximately 1800 AD, Herschel Island entered the contact periphery of the Europe an world- economy, where it would remain until 1889. Throughout this time range, which is also referred to as the protocontact period, an increased availability of trade goods is expected to affect the indigenous world- system, resulting...

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9. The Qikiqtaryungmiut World-System in the Marginal Periphery

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pp. 179-193

The period between 1889, when the whalers arrived at Herschel Island in force, and about 1907, when the price of baleen collapsed and whalers’ overwinterings were reduced in frequency (Bockstoce 1980, 1986), saw Herschel Island drawn into the marginal periphery of the Europe an world- economy. During...

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10. Summary and Discussion

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pp. 194-206

This book has been about reconstructing and understanding networks of intersocietal interaction among small- scale human societies, framed in terms of world-systems analysis. It has taken as a starting point Chase- Dunn and Hall’s (1991a) approach, which seeks to define structural aspects of...

Notes

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pp. 207-208

References

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pp. 209-242

Index

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pp. 243-260

About the Author

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pp. 261-280


E-ISBN-13: 9780816599936
E-ISBN-10: 0816599939
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816502448
Print-ISBN-10: 0816502447

Page Count: 279
Illustrations: 6 photos, 17 illust., 22 tables
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: The Archaeology of Colonialism in Native
Series Editor Byline: Liam Frink and Aubrey Cannon

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Subject Headings

  • Inuvialuit Eskimos -- History -- 19th century.
  • Inuvialuit Eskimos -- Hunting.
  • Inuvialuit Eskimos -- Colonization.
  • Ethnohistory -- Yukon -- Herschel Island.
  • Hunting and gathering societies -- Yukon -- Herschel Island.
  • Acculturation -- Yukon -- Herschel Island.
  • Herschel Island (Yukon) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Herschel Island (Yukon) -- Social life and customs.
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