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9 CHAPTER TWO Population Circulation and Community Organization in Small-Scale Agricultural Societies Geographers, sociologists, and anthropologists coined the term “population circulation” to describe the constant flow of labor migration that arose around colonial cities and extractive facilities in developing countries during the mid-twentieth century (Mitchell 1961; see Chapman and Prothero 1985b). These systems were characterized by cycles of residential movement between newly founded cities and traditional villages. Although these movements could be considered migrations because people changed residences, they were often temporary as people moved back and forth between cities and villages and continued to participate in both colonial and traditional economies and social networks.1 Researchers working in Melanesia expanded the definition of circulation to include many types of temporary and short-term movements, such as travels to participate in ceremonies or trade, regardless of whether they were explicitly linked to a colonial economy (Bedford 1971; Chapman 1970). The redefinition of circulation challenged previous suggestions that frequent population movement in small-scale societies was a product of colonial impacts and urbanization and that sedentism was the natural state of preindustrial agricultural societies (also see Cobb 2005). According to the newer perspective, “Circulation, far from being transitional or ephemeral, is a time-honored and enduring mode of behavior, 10 population circulation and zuni communities deeply rooted in a great variety of cultures and found at all stages of socioeconomic change” (Chapman and Prothero 1985b:6). Thus, mobility ceased to be a characteristic of either nomadic hunter-gatherers or technologically assisted modernity. Ethnographic studies in Melanesia, Asia, and Africa demonstrated that colonial labor migration was often built upon, and incorporated within, traditional networks of population circulation that had long linked social groups through trade, kinship, and social hierarchies (Chapman 1970; Chapman and Prothero 1985a; Haenen and Pouwer 1989; Hamnett 1977; Prothero 1975; Prothero and Chapman 1984; Strathern and Stüzenhofecker 1994; Wiessner and Tumu 1998). Murray Chapman and Mansell Prothero (1985b:7–11) put forward a few basic propositions concerning circulation that illustrate its significance and impacts on society and that serve as useful jumping-off points for archaeological research as well. First, social units of various scales, ranging from individuals, to households, to entire communities, participate in networks of population movement. The duration and distance of moves differ depending on the type of groups involved and their respective social standing and roles (Watson 1985). Thus, circulation varies depending on the particular individuals studied, as well as the destination of their moves (also see Eder 1984). Archaeological research focused on variability in individual behaviors is obviously difficult, but it has long been a topic of interest (e.g., Hill and Gunn 1977) that has only increased in importance with the rise of agency-oriented perspectives (Dobres and Robb 2000; Hegmon 2003; Shennan 1993). Second, circulation is often driven by three factors: ecological variability and hazards; “customary life,” including marriage, warfare, and exchange; and “the decisions of the elderly, the prestigious, and the socially and economically important” (i.e., social hierarchy) (Chapman and Prothero 1985b:8). Long-term studies of the reasons behind many movements suggest that social factors are among the most important in influencing decisions about the destination and duration of movement (Hamnett 1977, 1985). As noted in the introduction, archaeological research often emphasizes the influence of ecological variation and at best implicitly considers other factors, yielding a partial view of ancient mobility practices. Third, in every society there is a spatial “separation of obligations, activities , and goods” (Chapman and Prothero 1985b:9). Most archaeological studies, as would be expected given their necessary focus on material culture, have tended to focus on how the latter two factors have influenced settlement and mobility rather than social obligations. Chapman and Prothero (1985b:9) propose that movements to address spatial vari- Population Circulation and Community Organization 11 ability in these three factors occur at two somewhat different scales, one focused on an individual’s or group’s current residence that is linked to access to land, resources, and local kinship obligations; and another wider network consisting of potential marriage partners, longer distance kin networks, exchange ties, and participation in regional political and ritual groups and events. The former scale, which is roughly equivalent to archaeological definitions of community, has been of primary interest to Southwest archaeologists studying the impacts of residential mobility linked to agricultural practices (Nelson 1999; Varien 1999a). As noted by Chapman and Prothero, however, movement at this scale occurs in a larger context defined by multifaceted social obligations...


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