Synopses & Reviews
"With unparalleled knowledge of Polynesia's history, ecology, languages, and archaeology, Patrick V. Kirch shows us how, when, and why Hawaiian society crossed the gulf from chiefdom to state. Elegantly crafted and eloquently stated, this compelling case study offers a model for understanding state emergence and the origins of divine kings."and#151;Joyce Marcus, University of Michigan
"This volume masterfully synthesizes diverse sources of evidence to richly document a key episode of political change in the Pacific. Historical, archaeological, linguistic, and a wealth of other data are effectively woven together to argue that an archaic state was founded prior to European contact on the island of Hawaii. Professor Kirch deftly and systematically integrates these empirical resources to elucidate how multiple causal factors operating over the short- and long-term prompted this political shift. The richness of the materials under study enables the author to enhance our perspective on this long-discussed episode of cultural change and how it can be understood at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The book is destined to become a key resource for both scholars interested in the deep history of Pacific peoples as well as researchers investigating preindustrial chiefdoms and states."and#151;Gary M. Feinman, The Field Museum
"Concise, but data-rich and sophisticated in its dissection of social theory."--Times Literary Supplement (Tls)
and#8220;Rich and wideand#173;ranging. . . . Kirch cements his reputation in this book. . . . Here we see the master at the top of his game.and#8221;
and#8220;Complete and compelling. . . . This is an important book, and everyone with a serious interest in Hawaiian history should read it.and#8221;
and#8220;Concise, but data-rich and sophisticated in its dissection of social theory.and#8221;
In How Chiefs Became Kings, Patrick Vinton Kirch addresses a central problem in anthropological archaeology: the emergence of and#147;archaic statesand#8221; whose distinctive feature was divine kingship. Kirch takes as his focus the Hawaiian archipelago, commonly regarded as the archetype of a complex chiefdom. Integrating anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, traditional history, and theory, and drawing on significant contributions from his own four decades of research, Kirch argues that Hawaiian polities had become states before the time of Captain Cookand#8217;s voyage (1778-1779). The status of most archaic states is inferred from the archaeological record. But Kirch shows that because Hawaiiand#8217;s kingdoms were established relatively recently, they could be observed and recorded by Cook and other European voyagers. Substantive and provocative, this book makes a major contribution to the literature of precontact Hawaii and illuminates Hawaiiand#8217;s importance in the global theory and literature about divine kingship, archaic states, and sociopolitical evolution.
"With unparalleled knowledge of Polynesia's history, ecology, languages, and archaeology, Patrick V. Kirch shows us how, when, and why Hawaiian society crossed the gulf from chiefdom to state. Elegantly crafted and eloquently stated, this compelling case study offers a model for understanding state emergence and the origins of divine kings."--Joyce Marcus, University of Michigan
About the Author
Patrick Vinton Kirch is Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology and Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of many books, including Feathered Gods and Fishhooks and On the Road of the Winds (UC Press).