© 2017

Feast, Famine or Fighting?

Multiple Pathways to Social Complexity

  • Richard J. Chacon
  • Rubén G. Mendoza

Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 8)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxix
  2. Richard J. Chacon, Rubén G. Mendoza
    Pages 1-14
  3. Chapurukha M. Kusimba, Nam C. Kim, Sibel B. Kusimba
    Pages 61-89
  4. David Willer, Pamela Emanuelson, Yamilette Chacon, Richard J. Chacon
    Pages 417-452
  5. Robert L. Carneiro
    Pages 453-457
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 479-490

About this book


The advent of social complexity has been a longstanding debate among social scientists. Existing theories and approaches involving the origins of social complexity include environmental circumscription, population growth, technology transfers, prestige-based and interpersonal-group competition, organized conflict, perennial wartime leadership, wealth finance, opportunistic leadership, climatological change, transport and trade monopolies, resource circumscription, surplus and redistribution, ideological imperialism, and the consideration of individual agency.

However, recent approaches such as the inclusion of bioarchaeological perspectives, prospection methods, systematically-investigated archaeological sites along with emerging technologies are necessarily transforming our understanding of socio-cultural evolutionary processes. In short, many pre-existing ways of explaining the origins and development of social complexity are being reassessed. 

Ultimately, the contributors to this edited volume challenge the status quo regarding how and why social complexity arose by providing revolutionary new understandings of social inequality and socio-political evolution.


spatial distribution and hierarchy of settlements War-related social and ritual traits internal and external societal dynamics human responses to scarcity during famines sociopolitical change and leadership related to competition

Editors and affiliations

  • Richard J. Chacon
    • 1
  • Rubén G. Mendoza
    • 2
  1. 1.Soc & Anth DeptWinthrop University Soc & Anth DeptRock HillUSA
  2. 2.Social, Behavioral and Global StudiesCSU Monterey Bay Social, Behavioral and Global StudiesSeasideUSA

About the editors

Richard J. Chacon is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Winthrop University. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Amazonia among the Yanomamo of Venezuela, the Yora of Peru and the Achuar (Shiwiar) of Ecuador. In the Andes, he has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Otavalo and Cotacachi Indians of Highland Ecuador. His research interests include collective action, optimal foraging theory, indigenous subsistence strategies, natural resource conservation, warfare, belief systems, the development of social complexity, ethnohistory, ethics and the effects of globalization on indigenous peoples.

Dr. Rubén G. Mendoza is Professor and Chair of the Division of Social, Behavioral, and Global Studies at the California State University, Monterey Bay. He has conducted archaeological and ethnohistorical investigations in California, Colorado, the US Southwest, and Mesoamerica. His research interests include Mesoamerican and South American civilizations and social complexity, long-distance trade and exchange, conflict interaction, and Hispanicized Indian and Amerindian traditional technologies and material cultures. In addition, he is the coordinator for both the Archaeological Science, Technology, and Visualization, and Global Studies, programs at CSU Monterey Bay.

Contact information: Dr. Rubén G. Mendoza, Ph.D., RPA, Professor/Chair, Division of Social, Behavioral & Global Studies, California State University, Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA, USA. E-mail:

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Feast, Famine or Fighting?
  • Book Subtitle Multiple Pathways to Social Complexity
  • Editors Richard J. Chacon
    Rubén G. Mendoza
  • Series Title Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation
  • Series Abbreviated Title Studies in Human Ecology
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-48401-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-83933-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-48402-0
  • Series ISSN 1574-0501
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXIX, 490
  • Number of Illustrations 41 b/w illustrations, 108 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Anthropology
    Community & Population Ecology
    Social Theory
  • Buy this book on publisher's site