chapter  9
17 Pages

Anarchist theory in the Pacific and ‘Pacific anarchists’ in archaeological thought

WithJames L. Flexner

The term anarchist is not necessarily a term that would be easily recognised or identified with among Pacific communities. This is in contrast to indigenous terms like tabu and mana, once staples of the anthropological canon, and introduced terms like ‘chief’, which has in many cases been wholeheartedly adopted by Pacific Islanders as a signifier of social status. Yet anarchist thought has much to offer Pacific archaeology. Anarchist theories explore the alternative forms of order that have existed, exist in the present or could exist in the future, outside of the realms of state power. Many Pacific Island societies represent examples of what anthropologists call ‘societies against the state’. Anarchist theoretical frameworks can diversify interpretations of archaeological data in the Pacific. At the same time, the realities of past Pacific Islanders’ lives provide an interesting lens for reinterpreting tenets of classical anarchist thought.